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Ryannumber1Scarer

Thoughts time, and I've got catch up to do:

SU#2:

-I don't really see an issue with the whole 'faker' bit. Sonic tends to tease everybody he meets, and it's not to say Shadow didn't have those moments of rivalry either ('you're not even good enough to be my fake'). It's just a nickname, and I think it generally becomes so accepted because it fits with Sonic and Shadow's dynamic well enough.

-I think the reason Sonic has so much faith in Eggman's sanity is quite simple - he doesn't realise the weight of his actions here. Sonic believes this is just the same song and dance between them that they always have - Sonic kicks Eggman's butt, Eggman makes a few cracks, Sonic quips back, I hate that hedgehog, and Team Eggman blasts away again - only this time, Sonic intended to ensure he couldn't run for it. 

For all of Sonic's flaws, it pretty obvious he didn't want Eggman to just lose his fucking mind over everything they've been through, and when met with the prospect that Sonic's actions have done that, he denies it, and thinks Eggman's just the same as normal. Sonic's still a good guy at the end of the day, he just wants Eggman to get locked up, he didn't want to drive him to the brink of insanity.

SU#3:

-I'm going to have to completely disagree with Ian essentially making Omega's situation an oversimplification. In Heroes, that is pretty much exactly what Eggman did. He made a gigantic killing machine armed to the teeth, possibly his most powerful creation, and he literally spends his time just protecting a random room with Shadow sleeping in it, mostly inactive during all of it. 

Hell, Heroes literally has Rouge convincing Omega to join her and Shadow with one simple line - "You're mad at Eggman for sealing you in this room'. Omega might be extremely prideful, and wants revenge by destroying every Eggman robot because of it, but it doesn't change the fact that his motivation for being pissed off at Eggman was because Omega was so monstrously powerful, and yet he was sealed in a room to do nothing for god knows how long. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it's particularly fair to say Ian has simplified it down by any measure here.

-Personally, I never really found there to be a right or wrong answer with the debate Omega and Gamma had. Omega claims that Gamma is outdated, no matter what - but Gamma being an assassin and fighting like such has it's own benefits that Omega's walking arsenal hasn't. Omega is correct that he's outdated, but Gamma isn't useless, and he was more than able to use his environment against Omega. It's important to keep in mind Gamma wasn't trying to kill Omega here, so it's not to say that Gamma under any circumstance couldn't have destroyed or hurt Omega, the fact he can outwit and knock Omega off his feet is proof that if he wanted to, he could probably at least plan a way to do so, but he wasn't trying to, so it's a moot point.

-Personally speaking, I'm indifferent to the Gamma/Omega deal. In my mind, it's not a literal infusion of Gamma's soul, nor is it some Piccolo/Nail stuff, it's more like Gamma just opened up Omega's eyes to things beyond Eggman's programming. He didn't give him a literal soul, as much as he gave him the ability to think about his actions and retain agency for himself. In essence, Omega was just freed from his programming and given free will, and something of a conscience as a result, because Eggman's programming comparatively is just to kill, maim, and destroy indiscriminately. He may have had thoughts, but those thoughts were still being guided by what Eggman had programmed, and Omega - as shown by him cowering back from Eggman earlier was still under his control. 

It's the same deal as Amy giving Gamma the agency to think for himself as well. I admit it's been awhile since I've read the issue, but I've never saw it as a literal 'Gamma has taken over Omega's code or fused with him' - he just gave Omega the ability to think for himself and to choose his own actions in life. His mission isn't raging against Eggman, his mission is to free his brothers from Eggman's control - so he's fulfilled it by freeing Omega. Omega's mission has continued in a different sense (destroying Eggman's operation), but that's never been Gamma's mission, so again - that's clearly a choice by Omega. He chooses to continue Gamma's mission in another way on his own terms.

To dip my toes into Mega Man levels of discussion - Omega has been reprogrammed from Eggman's protocols to be able to decide what to do next for himself. For a robot, this is difficult as they haven't had to think like that before, their programming guides them. Omega's talks of feeling uneasy about what was commanded of him and what his purpose in life is from here on out to be is representative of him not knowing what to do without his programming guiding him, not until Shadow guides him to using his power to help others and take vengeance on Eggman, which still ultimately works out the same for me as his Heroes counterpart. I don't see it as Gamma literally giving him a soul, he just transferred over the part of his programming that allowed Gamma to think, feel, and act for himself instead of Eggman.

No offence to the Omega fans out there, but his reasoning for working with Team Dark in Heroes was just as simple as 'Eggman locked me and my potential up so I'm gonna wreck his shit', so I don't think him coming to that decision here really deviates from that to any notable degree. Ian recollided the idea of the E-Series robots needing to gain agency for themselves from Adventure, and Omega's motivations from Heroes, but that's about it for me. I don't think he did it perfectly, mind you - but I don't think it's awful or anything either, I'm just fairly indifferent to it. I don't really have much of a preference between this Omega and IDW Omega, frankly.

-Generally speaking, I don't think IDW Omega is a good comparison to 'how they could've did this', as is - it's pretty impossible to recollide Team Dark's original meeting in the comics because it's heavily based on Heroes' plot. There's no Shadow clones, no Shadow being rescued by Eggman, no Rouge searching for some hidden Eggman treasure, etc.

What we got was Omega laid in storage for over a year, gathering dust while Eggman went with sillier plans, and even had a war going on, and still didn't see fit to reactivate Omega - and then, and only THEN - did he activate Omega, not to kill Sonic, not to obliterate the Freedom Fighters, but to instead go do some petty clean-up job on Gamma, even when Sonic and co were knocking on his front door to kick his ass - which IMO works even better for the context of why Omega's pissed off in Archie - Eggman had more than enough reason to activate him during the war with Knothole, and still didn't do so until the most pettiest of missions. He got activated for cleaning up a mess and that's it, and that had to have stung for Omega's ego. In the regard of setting up why Omega's pissed off and wants payback, I think Ian handled that even better than the games did, frankly.

STH#199

-I don't really have much to say in #199 tbh lol. I still think the Charmy & Friends aspect is weird, if only because Espio and Mighty didn't seem to be in a ton of danger, and it still feels just...really weird to read Charmy's childish dialogue with the context of 'this is supposed to be Charmy's growth' after what happened back in #176. 

-Knuckles finally coming to terms with stopping the Dark Legion for their own good is neat at least.

-I feel like the different reactions to the bottleneck can be summed up as Snively, Lien-Da and Dimitri all knowing the true reasoning behind it (To challenge Sonic to an inevitable lost battle). Hell, they probably still had the sense to realise Eggman was too far gone to give them anything that could beat Sonic, so even the idea of 'taking them out one after another' was lost. It's important to keep in mind they have the context that Eggman's lost his mind while the heroes don't yet, beyond Shadow telling Sonic that was the case.

-I still find it pretty funny that we got this is Mania so many years following #200:

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STH#200

-To be honest, I don't feel one shred of sympathy for Eggman in #200. I can understand that this all happening while Eggman is losing his mind can be a bit uneasy feeling, and the shots are to portray this isn't the usual affair of Sonic VS Eggman, but even barring all of the awful, evil shit that he's done in earlier years alone - this is a direct reflection of #175 where Eggman razed Sonic's home to ashes, and tried to kidnap and steal the life energy of his friends to use as fuel, all while mocking, taunting, and crushing Sonic in the process. If I recall, even a good bit of the dialogue is a reflection of Sonic and Eggman's fight in #175, so it's hard for me to feel like this is Eggman getting harshly taunted this time, instead of Eggman is getting his deserved comeuppance for #175 alone

Trust me, I can get feeling empathy for villains in these stories, but in this situation, beyond the fact that we - the readers - are clued in on the fact Eggman is close to snapping - he certainly absolutely does not deserve it in any sense of the word. Eggman dished it out in #175 so now it's his turn to take it.

(As a disclaimer - I know you aren't blaming Sonic specifically for this, but I'm just explaining where I'm coming from in regards to feeling bad for Eggman here).

-I think credit has to go to how weirdly disturbing Eggman is consistently drawn in this issue. It's most notable during the part where he roars 'HEDGEHOG' during the catchphrase bit. Between the tears, the angry expression, the spit coming down from his teeth and everything else, you can tell Eggman's lost it from visual alone.

-Small moment, I love Sonic stealing Eggman's glasses mid-attack.

-I could talk about how well done Eggman's mind-snap is handled, but I think there needs to be particular mention to Sonic's looks of realisation and slow denial to seriousness when he realises that Shadow is right. From him going from Eggman to Doc, to Robotnik, and even Ivo. Even the look of shock and horror on his face when he sees Eggman swinging for him, something he rarely, if ever does. I think it's neat that Sonic doesn't celebrate this, other than just to put on a brave face for Tails and Amy. He's legit kind of horrified and left empty and hollow by the notion that he drove Eggman to insanity. He knew Eggman was evil, but Sonic's still a good guy, he never wanted to make someone just...snap like that.

-You have to appreciate that Snively made Eggman's padded cell into an egg. What a considerate nephew. 

-I personally don't really mind that they treat Eggman as if he's always been the one and the same. He essentially has more or less been the one and the same with his prime counterpart's death being the exception, and personally speaking - I think it just works better for continuity and simplicity to treat him as such. The whole purpose of #197 was to basically tackle that and saying that he's more or less 1:1 anyways, and the history still exists between them.

SU#4

-I think the reason why Shadow got angry with Omega is when Omega started going on about how he was cleared for active duty and how they now have an edge, Shadow was genuinely intrigued, believing Omega had a plan for dealing with the big powerful panda, only to be given what equates to 'this time ill hit him harder'. Shadow already felt like he failed, so having Omega state the backup plan was 'i'd kick his ass' both angered Shadow due to feeling like a failure himself, and finding it unbelievable that their solution to someone who can disable even his abilities is just 'hit it'.

-I don't have much to say beyond the scene with Shadow and Hope is nice, it's cool how they tackle handling failures and how you can take those failures and use them to ensure your success next time.

-Well obviously the reason they're called Team Dark is because when a lightbulb goes in the middle of the night, Team Dark can easily replace it. Omega lets Shadow stand on his head, Shadow climbs up and changes the lightbulb, and Rouge...supervises I guess.

-I genuinely love that the solution to this story really was just Omega blasting Feist with everything he has. Not only is the line 'I enjoy Plan B!' great, but I love how it was set-up as something silly, only to be the real solution. 

"What is a ultimate lifeform to a god?" 

"What is a god to an non-believer?!" 

-Shadow to Feist, Sonic Universe #4, 2009...probably

SU#5:

-Sasha's really working hard for her Emmy this year to be fair.

-In regards to Manik and Sonia, I honestly always found how it was handled extremely weird. I get having them wiped from history was an awful thing, but I feel like the new situation isn't much better. Their lives have been essentially uprooted and completely altered from the ground up. Lara-Su - for her troubles - lost one of her best friends and is now babysitting her as a five year old. We know it's a very similar situation for whatever other friends Sonia and Manik had because we also know Salma still exists in M30YL. 

Even in personality, both of them in M30YL seem extremely different to who they were n M25YL. You can still attribute that to the age difference but it doesn't change the fact that circumstances have caused them have extremely different lives, and possibly even different personalities. I always thought it was weird that despite Lara-Su apparently knowing about the timeline shift, she never once mentions how weird it is to have basically lost her friend forever, and instead babysits a five year old variant of her. 

I understand this is probably overthinking timey-whimey stuff, and the original versions were generic and terrible anyways, but it doesn't make it any the less weird to me. Sonia and Manik might have been 'reborn', but if they're entirely different people with entirely different lives, that still means the original Sonia and Manik are essentially lost forever, replaced by new versions, and that's pretty fucked up IMO. 

-Mace is Knuckles' brother (Kneecaps) - He's called Mace in the M25YL/30YL era because Penders hated Kneecaps the Echinda. From Mobius Encyclopaedia: 

Quote

There was a bit of a dispute among writers Karl Bollers and Ken Penders as to what they should name Knecapeon. Karl wanted the name to be Kneecaps, but Ken preferred Mace, and made it canon first in a Mobius: 25 Years Later storyline. As a compromise, when Karl wrote Return to Angel Island, he made Kneecaps a nickname.

You probably don't remember him because both Knecapeon is a dumb name, and because he looks exactly like Knuckles:

latest?cb=20200424015800

-It was Penders' idea that Tails and Mina get together. Again - his reasoning was 'Sonic is fast and Mina is fast so therefore Tails would logically get with Mina'. It's creepy and it's incredibly fucking dumb. 

Even as someone who has Tails ranked high on my favourite character list (With Tails being my absolute favourite until Lost World happened, before he got replaced by Knuckles after) and Mina being my favourite Archie character, this shipping should've literally been made for me and even I think it's fucking weird and comes out of absolutely nowhere. I give credit to Ian to at least making the two have some chemistry as a couple, but it doesn't make it any less odd.

-The whole talk of back pain and kicking rockets away makes me imagine an alt take where Sonic just kicks the rocket away and does the Adventure cover-art pose to the hype of millions.

-Side note - I think it's pretty funny that even the artists seemed to find Julie-Su's designs in M25YL absolutely ridiculous, given that here, they're reverted her back to an adventurous appearance with shorter hair that's closer to her standard design. 

SU#6:

-I want to take a brief moment to say - even though the idea of Sonic as a king is off, I fucking love the shoulder gauntlet cape he has. It's such a minor, but cool outfit change for Sonic. I feel like you could get rid of the crown and have a neat hero outfit for him.

-I think it's interesting how Ian hints that this is an alt timeline that's still effected by the alterations of the past. This timeline exists because Sonic muddled with...something in the past, and even now it's gradually being shaped by what happens in the present, with Sonic remembering that Silver and himself fought during Hedgehog Havoc, even though that hadn't happened back in the original story. It's cool to think that all these different futures are still flowing and shifting by the actions of the past, something we'll see with Dark Mobius too.

-Dimitri's still so great in this. It's insane how much Ian improved him as a character. Both in the main series where he's still a villain, and here where he's just grown tired of all the struggles created by conflicts they never even found themselves involved with, and now he just wants some peace and harmony among the few remaining family members he has left. It's a genuine shame we'll never see him under Ian's pencil again.

-Part of me feels like Sally disbanded the Freedom Fighters because without Sonic - she knew they didn't stand much of a hope. I hate to be that guy, but Sally was likely just being a realist - Sonic can only just stand toe to toe with Shadow at the best of times, and Shadow's rule happened when the FF were older and not as quick and strong as they once were. Without Sonic, it's likely they would've all got their asses kicked and killed by the hand of a insane and ruthless Shadow. Sally was picking the best option to try temper his madness and ensure her friends and kingdom's safety, even at her own misery.

-I get the whole future FF idea being the concept of the story, but I'm insanely disappointed that Mina and Tails are side-lined like this. I wanted to see them kick some ass here. 

-Silver going from serious to modest, and dorkly awkward is brilliant. You can see the first signs of inexperienced dorky Silver that Archie would be best known for. 

-Also I guess we just have to settle for echidna maid instead of Abbey revealing she was a secret Dark Legion soldier all along. No. Stop. Come back. (Disclaimer: I know Abbey was the maid for Knuckles and his family, but it's still funny to think about so)

-Can we just take a moment to say how stupid it was of that maid to just reveal herself like that to knock out Silver. Like, what did you think would happen? You'd also manage to knock out King 'fastest thing alive' within a split second?

-You have to admit, it was real nice of them to let Shadow keep the crown and cape and just pay for new ones for Sonic. I guess Sally gives very generous severage packages.

SU#7:

-Argyle's cool. Again, pretty neat how Ian expanded this nothing character into a pretty likeable one while keeping the dynamic he and Lara-Su were implied to have in M25YL.

-Side note, if M30YL Vector doesn't have a fedora as part of his outfit, then something's badly wrong.

-You aren't the only one who forgot Jacque and Belle exists. Hell, their initial lead-in image is coloured like Antoine and Bunnie when it's supposed to be swapped around (Jacque is supposed to have Bunnie's fur colour while Belle is supposed to have Antoine's fur colour). In general, I feel like it would've been cooler if Belle was the sword user and Jacque used Bunnie's cybernetic weapons instead.

-Melody's snapping is so utterly ridiculous and heavily dates this issue lol. Thankfully our boy Argyle saves the day with his geeking out over Sonic saying the line.

-Tikhaos' existence is absolutely dark and depressing. As you said, imagining what the hell led to her creation makes it all the worse. 

-The reason why Lien-Da considered Rutan to be stolen from her is pretty simple - she's a criminal outlaw who brutally reinforced Shadow's rule, and even when Sonic took over - she wanted to revive Shadow. The simple answer is she was a wanted criminal and she blamed Sonic, Sally, and the new order of rule for her own misfortunes because she was power-hungry and being King Shadow's enforcer gave her the power she craved in spades. She wanted both the power and Rutan, but she chose the power in the end at the expense of being with her son, and it backfired harshly on her for it.

-I have to admit, I feel like it would've been more interesting if they'd swapped the abilities of Melody and Skye. I think it's neat that Melody springs to Skye's defence when Lara-Su questions his flying, but I think it would've made both stand out much more if Skye was the one with super speed and Melody was the one with flight, since it'd help to make them different from their parents, and Skye looking like Tails with Sonic's speed, and him going insane with it and not being able to control it would be neat IMO. It's kind of the same thing I mentioned with Jacque and Belle.

-Side note on the Melody/Skye power thing, I like that Ian and co basically had to entirely redesign Melody and Skye, because from M25YL, much like Sonia and Manik, they were even more blatant clones of their parents:

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Like, Melody is literally 1:1 to Mina here. I swear the design work in M25YL absolute garbage-tier. You can tell the only one Penders really gave a crap about was Lara-Su.

-As to Eggman's fate, according to Mobius Encyclopaedia, Ian has said that he hasn't definitively decided upon it, but it's likely the same as the M25YL unaltered timeline (Knuckles vaporised him), however this time - Shadow was the one who kicked Knuckles' ass and brought him back down from power, and not Sonic.

Personally speaking, I hate this explanation as it was another excuse for Penders to bolster his shit version of Knuckles, so I like to think that in the altered timeline, Shadow killed Eggman as part of his takeover of Mobius.

-The image of King Shadow engulfed in green chaos energy is cool as hell.

-The reasoning behind the fridge comic isn't the storyline. The explanation is there's a term coined by TV Tropes for killing off a female character unceremoniously in a male-leading series as 'Stuffed in the Fridge' (or Women in Refrigerator Syndrome as Gail Simone and the DC Wikia calls it): 

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge

The context of this sentence comes from a Green Lantern comic where Kyle Rayner's girlfriend was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator - which is the scene Penders is specifically attempting to replicate:

450?cb=20090901153506 

Now, that'd be all fine and dandy, except the issue is Penders didn't read the comics in question and was just told about it on Twitter or some other form of Social Media, so when he heard about Hershey's fate, he just assumed that's what Ian was doing, he was unceremoniously killing off a female character, and Penders being Penders drew the comic to take the piss out of Ian and score brownie points with Hershey/Geoffrey fans. 

If he'd read the comics, he'd of course get the context that our only mention of Hershey having died was an account from Geoffrey, who was currently working under and being manipulated by Naugus, and the fact that Ian had planned for it to be revealed that Hershey was actually alive and in deep undercover. So even at this rate, Penders still jumped in without knocking the context and without even waiting for the story to be told in full before doing this.

All this to say that the comic is tasteless, bad, and lacking in context, but it's not based on the off-panel present here.

SU#8:

-I think it's neat we don't know a whole ton about Tikhaos and we're left to fill in the blanks based off the bare info given to us. As said, imagining the details for a scenario that was so awful that Tikal felt she had no other choice but to merge with Chaos is neat. Especially given that Chaos is made up of water, an element Naugus could feasibly control, it doesn't take much to figure out why Tikal might've had to do this...

-I have to say I really like how Mina's characterised here. I don't see her being close to Chi-Chi, but I certainly see the way she feels unafraid to talk to Sonic however she likes, regardless of titles and roles being much more like Bulma than anything. Super actually made a point of that at one point where Bulma's visibly shook when Goku dodged a slap from her instead of just taking it like he usually does, since that's pretty much the dynamic they have, even though Goku's that much stronger than her.

-I have to be honest and say I don't mind the age of Sonic here and think they handle it fairly well in a fun way. He's still able to do fast action and all that, and he's gained some more wisdom and can act more like an adult at times when needed, even though he still easily slips into that 'fun uncle' attitude as well. Stuff like 'when I was young, ouch' are really fun lines to me.

-But even at that, I have to say that the conclusion is lame as hell. I don't like Manik and Sonia being the ones to lay the final hit in on Tikhaos. I can understand the idea of 'the newer generation rising up', and being fair - the only reason they pulled the hit off was because Sonic distracted Tikhaos, but it doesn't change the fact they sort of just screwed Sonic over there to raise up his kids. I think it would've been more effective if Sonic said something like 'Without my super form, I don't know if I'm strong enough to damage the brain', so Sonic, Sonia and Manik all hit it together, it would've done an effective job of showing the kids off as capable while not making Sonic look like a chump at the same time.

-The sad expression of regret on Tikhal's face when she's finally brought down is absolutely heartbreaking. It's so sad to see her like this.

-I really like the image of Mina getting hyped up, and Sonic & Tails talking about this being like old times, and it makes me wish we could've got more of that in the issue. I really wanna see more Sonic & Tails action here.

-Knuckles: The Return is next up, and I'm interested to see what you think of it. To me, it's always been one of the more surprising and underrated Universe arcs.

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Dr. Detective Mike
3 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

SU#3:

-I'm going to have to completely disagree with Ian essentially making Omega's situation an oversimplification. In Heroes, that is pretty much exactly what Eggman did. He made a gigantic killing machine armed to the teeth, possibly his most powerful creation, and he literally spends his time just protecting a random room with Shadow sleeping in it, mostly inactive during all of it. 

Hell, Heroes literally has Rouge convincing Omega to join her and Shadow with one simple line - "You're mad at Eggman for sealing you in this room'. Omega might be extremely prideful, and wants revenge by destroying every Eggman robot because of it, but it doesn't change the fact that his motivation for being pissed off at Eggman was because Omega was so monstrously powerful, and yet he was sealed in a room to do nothing for god knows how long. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it's particularly fair to say Ian has simplified it down by any measure here.

My point was that I feel he simplified what it meant for his character, not the actual events themselves. What bothered me about the way I recall him talking about it was how he seemed to just brush it off as not meaning much of anything and I wanted to explain why I felt that wasn't fair. 

For clarification in case anyone is confused, what I said back in the SU #3 review was "I know Ian kind of relegated Omega’s ambition in Heroes to simply being mad because Eggman “locked him in the broom closet” but I really do feel like that’s an oversimplification of his situation and it kind of ignores just how monstrous and unapologetically prideful Omega is."

What I was referring to here is a statement he made on the Bumblekast about how Omega's ambition wasn't anything aside from "he locked me in the broom closet". Those were Ian's exact words. He was talking about how his story in that SU arc gave Omega a better motivation then what was given in Heroes. 

I went on a rant about why I thought Ian was wrong to say that Omega's motivation in Heroes amounted to as little as he made it out to be and why I thought his alternative here wasn't as satisfying to me.

What I believed to have been the over-simplification wasn't the literal events themselves but why I felt what happened in Heroes meant more than he was giving it credit for. I then went on to outline pretty everything you're saying here about why that rightfully would have pissed Omega off.

It's a matter of opinion as to whether or not you find Omega's motivation in Heroes too simple. Ian did. I don't. 

Or rather, even if the motivation itself is simple, what it means for his character I don't believe to be. That might be where the dissonance here is. I also didn't directly say that they should or even could have done IDW Omega here either. I don't see why not, necessarily, but my point was more that there definitely were alternatives to the way Ian went about it. 

I've gone on at length to explain why I just generally dislike this story and Archie Omega in general so I won't tread that same ground again. This isn't me trying to get into another argument about it. I'm just hoping to clarify what I said a bit better. 

I can't say that I view it any other way. Omega's incredibly simple and petty motivation in Heroes is part of the reason I'm a huge fan of him because the implications of him reacting that way to such a outwardly simple thing, I felt, weren't simple at all.  

3 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Well obviously the reason they're called Team Dark is because when a lightbulb goes in the middle of the night, Team Dark can easily replace it. Omega lets Shadow stand on his head, Shadow climbs up and changes the lightbulb, and Rouge...supervises I guess.

Ah yes. Obviously. Why didn't I see that?

Probably because they're Team DARK. 

*Air horns go off*

3 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

-In regards to Manik and Sonia, I honestly always found how it was handled extremely weird. I get having them wiped from history was an awful thing, but I feel like the new situation isn't much better. Their lives have been essentially uprooted and completely altered from the ground up. Lara-Su - for her troubles - lost one of her best friends and is now babysitting her as a five year old. We know it's a very similar situation for whatever other friends Sonia and Manik had because we also know Salma still exists in M30YL. 

Even in personality, both of them in M30YL seem extremely different to who they were n M25YL. You can still attribute that to the age difference but it doesn't change the fact that circumstances have caused them have extremely different lives, and possibly even different personalities. I always thought it was weird that despite Lara-Su apparently knowing about the timeline shift, she never once mentions how weird it is to have basically lost her friend forever, and instead babysits a five year old variant of her. 

I understand this is probably overthinking timey-whimey stuff, and the original versions were generic and terrible anyways, but it doesn't make it any the less weird to me. Sonia and Manik might have been 'reborn', but if they're entirely different people with entirely different lives, that still means the original Sonia and Manik are essentially lost forever, replaced by new versions, and that's pretty fucked up IMO. 

Yeah. I can definitely see why it would be troubling to some and it's not as though the thought didn't briefly pass my mind but it was only a fleeting thought because I... ...don't care. However, for those who did, the weird nature of this is understandable. 

The amount of times I wrote the word "weird" while covering it as someone who barely grasped all the concepts was plenty as is. 

3 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

The reasoning behind the fridge comic isn't the storyline. The explanation is there's a term coined by TV Tropes for killing off a female character unceremoniously in a male-leading series as 'Stuffed in the Fridge' (or Women in Refrigerator Syndrome as Gail Simone and the DC Wikia calls it): 

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge

The context of this sentence comes from a Green Lantern comic where Kyle Rayner's girlfriend was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator - which is the scene Penders is specifically attempting to replicate:

I know that. I even said that I didn't think it was, just that it reminded me of it. I also know what the term "stuffed in the fridge" means.

However, I didn't know that it was because of a Green Lantern comic. That was interesting to find out. 

3 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

-Knuckles: The Return is next up, and I'm interested to see what you think of it.

So am I.

I don't even recall what I thought of it back when I first read it. 

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3 hours ago, Soniman said:

Man even when this Arc was new I disliked the designs for Bunnie and Antonio's kids. I thought it was dumb they both just happened to have robot limbs like Mom and they both had their parents accents (and then SWITCHTED THE ACCENTS FOR THEM THE NEXT ISSUE) like they just felt like poorly put together characters that needed several more drafts before being finalized. Which is weird because I quite liked the Prower kids, they're cool.

I think Ian once said that Jaques and Belle speak in more of a Cajun kind of accent being of both French and Southern heritage but I don't remember where that was said.

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow

Cajun makes sense due to the blend in Southern and French accents.

I don’t really remember everything about this arc mind you—it’s one of the few that I read two issues then skipped.

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3 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

was Penders' idea that Tails and Mina get together. Again - his reasoning was 'Sonic is fast and Mina is fast so therefore Tails would logically get with Mina'. It's creepy and it's incredibly fucking dumb

Not exactly. Hid friend BobR suggested that in that way as a joke and Penders was like "Yeah ok whatever" Since he only appeared on one panel and absolutely needed to be married to someone. 

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Dr. Detective Mike
1 hour ago, SBR2 said:

Not exactly. Hid friend BobR suggested that in that way as a joke and Penders was like "Yeah ok whatever" Since he only appeared on one panel and absolutely needed to be married to someone. 

Well but of course. Perish the thought that one of our main characters choose not to marry. Everyone in the future of all fiction must be married with children and exclusively with people they knew when they were young. 

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SkyHorizon
9 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Thoughts time, and I've got catch up to do:

SU#2:

-I don't really see an issue with the whole 'faker' bit. Sonic tends to tease everybody he meets, and it's not to say Shadow didn't have those moments of rivalry either ('you're not even good enough to be my fake'). It's just a nickname, and I think it generally becomes so accepted because it fits with Sonic and Shadow's dynamic well enough.

-I think the reason Sonic has so much faith in Eggman's sanity is quite simple - he doesn't realise the weight of his actions here. Sonic believes this is just the same song and dance between them that they always have - Sonic kicks Eggman's butt, Eggman makes a few cracks, Sonic quips back, I hate that hedgehog, and Team Eggman blasts away again - only this time, Sonic intended to ensure he couldn't run for it. 

For all of Sonic's flaws, it pretty obvious he didn't want Eggman to just lose his fucking mind over everything they've been through, and when met with the prospect that Sonic's actions have done that, he denies it, and thinks Eggman's just the same as normal. Sonic's still a good guy at the end of the day, he just wants Eggman to get locked up, he didn't want to drive him to the brink of insanity.

SU#3:

-I'm going to have to completely disagree with Ian essentially making Omega's situation an oversimplification. In Heroes, that is pretty much exactly what Eggman did. He made a gigantic killing machine armed to the teeth, possibly his most powerful creation, and he literally spends his time just protecting a random room with Shadow sleeping in it, mostly inactive during all of it. 

Hell, Heroes literally has Rouge convincing Omega to join her and Shadow with one simple line - "You're mad at Eggman for sealing you in this room'. Omega might be extremely prideful, and wants revenge by destroying every Eggman robot because of it, but it doesn't change the fact that his motivation for being pissed off at Eggman was because Omega was so monstrously powerful, and yet he was sealed in a room to do nothing for god knows how long. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it's particularly fair to say Ian has simplified it down by any measure here.

-Personally, I never really found there to be a right or wrong answer with the debate Omega and Gamma had. Omega claims that Gamma is outdated, no matter what - but Gamma being an assassin and fighting like such has it's own benefits that Omega's walking arsenal hasn't. Omega is correct that he's outdated, but Gamma isn't useless, and he was more than able to use his environment against Omega. It's important to keep in mind Gamma wasn't trying to kill Omega here, so it's not to say that Gamma under any circumstance couldn't have destroyed or hurt Omega, the fact he can outwit and knock Omega off his feet is proof that if he wanted to, he could probably at least plan a way to do so, but he wasn't trying to, so it's a moot point.

-Personally speaking, I'm indifferent to the Gamma/Omega deal. In my mind, it's not a literal infusion of Gamma's soul, nor is it some Piccolo/Nail stuff, it's more like Gamma just opened up Omega's eyes to things beyond Eggman's programming. He didn't give him a literal soul, as much as he gave him the ability to think about his actions and retain agency for himself. In essence, Omega was just freed from his programming and given free will, and something of a conscience as a result, because Eggman's programming comparatively is just to kill, maim, and destroy indiscriminately. He may have had thoughts, but those thoughts were still being guided by what Eggman had programmed, and Omega - as shown by him cowering back from Eggman earlier was still under his control. 

It's the same deal as Amy giving Gamma the agency to think for himself as well. I admit it's been awhile since I've read the issue, but I've never saw it as a literal 'Gamma has taken over Omega's code or fused with him' - he just gave Omega the ability to think for himself and to choose his own actions in life. His mission isn't raging against Eggman, his mission is to free his brothers from Eggman's control - so he's fulfilled it by freeing Omega. Omega's mission has continued in a different sense (destroying Eggman's operation), but that's never been Gamma's mission, so again - that's clearly a choice by Omega. He chooses to continue Gamma's mission in another way on his own terms.

To dip my toes into Mega Man levels of discussion - Omega has been reprogrammed from Eggman's protocols to be able to decide what to do next for himself. For a robot, this is difficult as they haven't had to think like that before, their programming guides them. Omega's talks of feeling uneasy about what was commanded of him and what his purpose in life is from here on out to be is representative of him not knowing what to do without his programming guiding him, not until Shadow guides him to using his power to help others and take vengeance on Eggman, which still ultimately works out the same for me as his Heroes counterpart. I don't see it as Gamma literally giving him a soul, he just transferred over the part of his programming that allowed Gamma to think, feel, and act for himself instead of Eggman.

No offence to the Omega fans out there, but his reasoning for working with Team Dark in Heroes was just as simple as 'Eggman locked me and my potential up so I'm gonna wreck his shit', so I don't think him coming to that decision here really deviates from that to any notable degree. Ian recollided the idea of the E-Series robots needing to gain agency for themselves from Adventure, and Omega's motivations from Heroes, but that's about it for me. I don't think he did it perfectly, mind you - but I don't think it's awful or anything either, I'm just fairly indifferent to it. I don't really have much of a preference between this Omega and IDW Omega, frankly.

-Generally speaking, I don't think IDW Omega is a good comparison to 'how they could've did this', as is - it's pretty impossible to recollide Team Dark's original meeting in the comics because it's heavily based on Heroes' plot. There's no Shadow clones, no Shadow being rescued by Eggman, no Rouge searching for some hidden Eggman treasure, etc.

What we got was Omega laid in storage for over a year, gathering dust while Eggman went with sillier plans, and even had a war going on, and still didn't see fit to reactivate Omega - and then, and only THEN - did he activate Omega, not to kill Sonic, not to obliterate the Freedom Fighters, but to instead go do some petty clean-up job on Gamma, even when Sonic and co were knocking on his front door to kick his ass - which IMO works even better for the context of why Omega's pissed off in Archie - Eggman had more than enough reason to activate him during the war with Knothole, and still didn't do so until the most pettiest of missions. He got activated for cleaning up a mess and that's it, and that had to have stung for Omega's ego. In the regard of setting up why Omega's pissed off and wants payback, I think Ian handled that even better than the games did, frankly.

STH#199

-I don't really have much to say in #199 tbh lol. I still think the Charmy & Friends aspect is weird, if only because Espio and Mighty didn't seem to be in a ton of danger, and it still feels just...really weird to read Charmy's childish dialogue with the context of 'this is supposed to be Charmy's growth' after what happened back in #176. 

-Knuckles finally coming to terms with stopping the Dark Legion for their own good is neat at least.

-I feel like the different reactions to the bottleneck can be summed up as Snively, Lien-Da and Dimitri all knowing the true reasoning behind it (To challenge Sonic to an inevitable lost battle). Hell, they probably still had the sense to realise Eggman was too far gone to give them anything that could beat Sonic, so even the idea of 'taking them out one after another' was lost. It's important to keep in mind they have the context that Eggman's lost his mind while the heroes don't yet, beyond Shadow telling Sonic that was the case.

-I still find it pretty funny that we got this is Mania so many years following #200:

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STH#200

-To be honest, I don't feel one shred of sympathy for Eggman in #200. I can understand that this all happening while Eggman is losing his mind can be a bit uneasy feeling, and the shots are to portray this isn't the usual affair of Sonic VS Eggman, but even barring all of the awful, evil shit that he's done in earlier years alone - this is a direct reflection of #175 where Eggman razed Sonic's home to ashes, and tried to kidnap and steal the life energy of his friends to use as fuel, all while mocking, taunting, and crushing Sonic in the process. If I recall, even a good bit of the dialogue is a reflection of Sonic and Eggman's fight in #175, so it's hard for me to feel like this is Eggman getting harshly taunted this time, instead of Eggman is getting his deserved comeuppance for #175 alone

Trust me, I can get feeling empathy for villains in these stories, but in this situation, beyond the fact that we - the readers - are clued in on the fact Eggman is close to snapping - he certainly absolutely does not deserve it in any sense of the word. Eggman dished it out in #175 so now it's his turn to take it.

(As a disclaimer - I know you aren't blaming Sonic specifically for this, but I'm just explaining where I'm coming from in regards to feeling bad for Eggman here).

-I think credit has to go to how weirdly disturbing Eggman is consistently drawn in this issue. It's most notable during the part where he roars 'HEDGEHOG' during the catchphrase bit. Between the tears, the angry expression, the spit coming down from his teeth and everything else, you can tell Eggman's lost it from visual alone.

-Small moment, I love Sonic stealing Eggman's glasses mid-attack.

-I could talk about how well done Eggman's mind-snap is handled, but I think there needs to be particular mention to Sonic's looks of realisation and slow denial to seriousness when he realises that Shadow is right. From him going from Eggman to Doc, to Robotnik, and even Ivo. Even the look of shock and horror on his face when he sees Eggman swinging for him, something he rarely, if ever does. I think it's neat that Sonic doesn't celebrate this, other than just to put on a brave face for Tails and Amy. He's legit kind of horrified and left empty and hollow by the notion that he drove Eggman to insanity. He knew Eggman was evil, but Sonic's still a good guy, he never wanted to make someone just...snap like that.

-You have to appreciate that Snively made Eggman's padded cell into an egg. What a considerate nephew. 

-I personally don't really mind that they treat Eggman as if he's always been the one and the same. He essentially has more or less been the one and the same with his prime counterpart's death being the exception, and personally speaking - I think it just works better for continuity and simplicity to treat him as such. The whole purpose of #197 was to basically tackle that and saying that he's more or less 1:1 anyways, and the history still exists between them.

SU#4

-I think the reason why Shadow got angry with Omega is when Omega started going on about how he was cleared for active duty and how they now have an edge, Shadow was genuinely intrigued, believing Omega had a plan for dealing with the big powerful panda, only to be given what equates to 'this time ill hit him harder'. Shadow already felt like he failed, so having Omega state the backup plan was 'i'd kick his ass' both angered Shadow due to feeling like a failure himself, and finding it unbelievable that their solution to someone who can disable even his abilities is just 'hit it'.

-I don't have much to say beyond the scene with Shadow and Hope is nice, it's cool how they tackle handling failures and how you can take those failures and use them to ensure your success next time.

-Well obviously the reason they're called Team Dark is because when a lightbulb goes in the middle of the night, Team Dark can easily replace it. Omega lets Shadow stand on his head, Shadow climbs up and changes the lightbulb, and Rouge...supervises I guess.

-I genuinely love that the solution to this story really was just Omega blasting Feist with everything he has. Not only is the line 'I enjoy Plan B!' great, but I love how it was set-up as something silly, only to be the real solution. 

"What is a ultimate lifeform to a god?" 

"What is a god to an non-believer?!" 

-Shadow to Feist, Sonic Universe #4, 2009...probably

SU#5:

-Sasha's really working hard for her Emmy this year to be fair.

-In regards to Manik and Sonia, I honestly always found how it was handled extremely weird. I get having them wiped from history was an awful thing, but I feel like the new situation isn't much better. Their lives have been essentially uprooted and completely altered from the ground up. Lara-Su - for her troubles - lost one of her best friends and is now babysitting her as a five year old. We know it's a very similar situation for whatever other friends Sonia and Manik had because we also know Salma still exists in M30YL. 

Even in personality, both of them in M30YL seem extremely different to who they were n M25YL. You can still attribute that to the age difference but it doesn't change the fact that circumstances have caused them have extremely different lives, and possibly even different personalities. I always thought it was weird that despite Lara-Su apparently knowing about the timeline shift, she never once mentions how weird it is to have basically lost her friend forever, and instead babysits a five year old variant of her. 

I understand this is probably overthinking timey-whimey stuff, and the original versions were generic and terrible anyways, but it doesn't make it any the less weird to me. Sonia and Manik might have been 'reborn', but if they're entirely different people with entirely different lives, that still means the original Sonia and Manik are essentially lost forever, replaced by new versions, and that's pretty fucked up IMO. 

-Mace is Knuckles' brother (Kneecaps) - He's called Mace in the M25YL/30YL era because Penders hated Kneecaps the Echinda. From Mobius Encyclopaedia: 

You probably don't remember him because both Knecapeon is a dumb name, and because he looks exactly like Knuckles:

latest?cb=20200424015800

-It was Penders' idea that Tails and Mina get together. Again - his reasoning was 'Sonic is fast and Mina is fast so therefore Tails would logically get with Mina'. It's creepy and it's incredibly fucking dumb. 

Even as someone who has Tails ranked high on my favourite character list (With Tails being my absolute favourite until Lost World happened, before he got replaced by Knuckles after) and Mina being my favourite Archie character, this shipping should've literally been made for me and even I think it's fucking weird and comes out of absolutely nowhere. I give credit to Ian to at least making the two have some chemistry as a couple, but it doesn't make it any less odd.

-The whole talk of back pain and kicking rockets away makes me imagine an alt take where Sonic just kicks the rocket away and does the Adventure cover-art pose to the hype of millions.

-Side note - I think it's pretty funny that even the artists seemed to find Julie-Su's designs in M25YL absolutely ridiculous, given that here, they're reverted her back to an adventurous appearance with shorter hair that's closer to her standard design. 

SU#6:

-I want to take a brief moment to say - even though the idea of Sonic as a king is off, I fucking love the shoulder gauntlet cape he has. It's such a minor, but cool outfit change for Sonic. I feel like you could get rid of the crown and have a neat hero outfit for him.

-I think it's interesting how Ian hints that this is an alt timeline that's still effected by the alterations of the past. This timeline exists because Sonic muddled with...something in the past, and even now it's gradually being shaped by what happens in the present, with Sonic remembering that Silver and himself fought during Hedgehog Havoc, even though that hadn't happened back in the original story. It's cool to think that all these different futures are still flowing and shifting by the actions of the past, something we'll see with Dark Mobius too.

-Dimitri's still so great in this. It's insane how much Ian improved him as a character. Both in the main series where he's still a villain, and here where he's just grown tired of all the struggles created by conflicts they never even found themselves involved with, and now he just wants some peace and harmony among the few remaining family members he has left. It's a genuine shame we'll never see him under Ian's pencil again.

-Part of me feels like Sally disbanded the Freedom Fighters because without Sonic - she knew they didn't stand much of a hope. I hate to be that guy, but Sally was likely just being a realist - Sonic can only just stand toe to toe with Shadow at the best of times, and Shadow's rule happened when the FF were older and not as quick and strong as they once were. Without Sonic, it's likely they would've all got their asses kicked and killed by the hand of a insane and ruthless Shadow. Sally was picking the best option to try temper his madness and ensure her friends and kingdom's safety, even at her own misery.

-I get the whole future FF idea being the concept of the story, but I'm insanely disappointed that Mina and Tails are side-lined like this. I wanted to see them kick some ass here. 

-Silver going from serious to modest, and dorkly awkward is brilliant. You can see the first signs of inexperienced dorky Silver that Archie would be best known for. 

-Also I guess we just have to settle for echidna maid instead of Abbey revealing she was a secret Dark Legion soldier all along. No. Stop. Come back. (Disclaimer: I know Abbey was the maid for Knuckles and his family, but it's still funny to think about so)

-Can we just take a moment to say how stupid it was of that maid to just reveal herself like that to knock out Silver. Like, what did you think would happen? You'd also manage to knock out King 'fastest thing alive' within a split second?

-You have to admit, it was real nice of them to let Shadow keep the crown and cape and just pay for new ones for Sonic. I guess Sally gives very generous severage packages.

SU#7:

-Argyle's cool. Again, pretty neat how Ian expanded this nothing character into a pretty likeable one while keeping the dynamic he and Lara-Su were implied to have in M25YL.

-Side note, if M30YL Vector doesn't have a fedora as part of his outfit, then something's badly wrong.

-You aren't the only one who forgot Jacque and Belle exists. Hell, their initial lead-in image is coloured like Antoine and Bunnie when it's supposed to be swapped around (Jacque is supposed to have Bunnie's fur colour while Belle is supposed to have Antoine's fur colour). In general, I feel like it would've been cooler if Belle was the sword user and Jacque used Bunnie's cybernetic weapons instead.

-Melody's snapping is so utterly ridiculous and heavily dates this issue lol. Thankfully our boy Argyle saves the day with his geeking out over Sonic saying the line.

-Tikhaos' existence is absolutely dark and depressing. As you said, imagining what the hell led to her creation makes it all the worse. 

-The reason why Lien-Da considered Rutan to be stolen from her is pretty simple - she's a criminal outlaw who brutally reinforced Shadow's rule, and even when Sonic took over - she wanted to revive Shadow. The simple answer is she was a wanted criminal and she blamed Sonic, Sally, and the new order of rule for her own misfortunes because she was power-hungry and being King Shadow's enforcer gave her the power she craved in spades. She wanted both the power and Rutan, but she chose the power in the end at the expense of being with her son, and it backfired harshly on her for it.

-I have to admit, I feel like it would've been more interesting if they'd swapped the abilities of Melody and Skye. I think it's neat that Melody springs to Skye's defence when Lara-Su questions his flying, but I think it would've made both stand out much more if Skye was the one with super speed and Melody was the one with flight, since it'd help to make them different from their parents, and Skye looking like Tails with Sonic's speed, and him going insane with it and not being able to control it would be neat IMO. It's kind of the same thing I mentioned with Jacque and Belle.

-Side note on the Melody/Skye power thing, I like that Ian and co basically had to entirely redesign Melody and Skye, because from M25YL, much like Sonia and Manik, they were even more blatant clones of their parents:

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Like, Melody is literally 1:1 to Mina here. I swear the design work in M25YL absolute garbage-tier. You can tell the only one Penders really gave a crap about was Lara-Su.

-As to Eggman's fate, according to Mobius Encyclopaedia, Ian has said that he hasn't definitively decided upon it, but it's likely the same as the M25YL unaltered timeline (Knuckles vaporised him), however this time - Shadow was the one who kicked Knuckles' ass and brought him back down from power, and not Sonic.

Personally speaking, I hate this explanation as it was another excuse for Penders to bolster his shit version of Knuckles, so I like to think that in the altered timeline, Shadow killed Eggman as part of his takeover of Mobius.

-The image of King Shadow engulfed in green chaos energy is cool as hell.

-The reasoning behind the fridge comic isn't the storyline. The explanation is there's a term coined by TV Tropes for killing off a female character unceremoniously in a male-leading series as 'Stuffed in the Fridge' (or Women in Refrigerator Syndrome as Gail Simone and the DC Wikia calls it): 

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge

The context of this sentence comes from a Green Lantern comic where Kyle Rayner's girlfriend was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator - which is the scene Penders is specifically attempting to replicate:

450?cb=20090901153506 

Now, that'd be all fine and dandy, except the issue is Penders didn't read the comics in question and was just told about it on Twitter or some other form of Social Media, so when he heard about Hershey's fate, he just assumed that's what Ian was doing, he was unceremoniously killing off a female character, and Penders being Penders drew the comic to take the piss out of Ian and score brownie points with Hershey/Geoffrey fans. 

If he'd read the comics, he'd of course get the context that our only mention of Hershey having died was an account from Geoffrey, who was currently working under and being manipulated by Naugus, and the fact that Ian had planned for it to be revealed that Hershey was actually alive and in deep undercover. So even at this rate, Penders still jumped in without knocking the context and without even waiting for the story to be told in full before doing this.

All this to say that the comic is tasteless, bad, and lacking in context, but it's not based on the off-panel present here.

SU#8:

-I think it's neat we don't know a whole ton about Tikhaos and we're left to fill in the blanks based off the bare info given to us. As said, imagining the details for a scenario that was so awful that Tikal felt she had no other choice but to merge with Chaos is neat. Especially given that Chaos is made up of water, an element Naugus could feasibly control, it doesn't take much to figure out why Tikal might've had to do this...

-I have to say I really like how Mina's characterised here. I don't see her being close to Chi-Chi, but I certainly see the way she feels unafraid to talk to Sonic however she likes, regardless of titles and roles being much more like Bulma than anything. Super actually made a point of that at one point where Bulma's visibly shook when Goku dodged a slap from her instead of just taking it like he usually does, since that's pretty much the dynamic they have, even though Goku's that much stronger than her.

-I have to be honest and say I don't mind the age of Sonic here and think they handle it fairly well in a fun way. He's still able to do fast action and all that, and he's gained some more wisdom and can act more like an adult at times when needed, even though he still easily slips into that 'fun uncle' attitude as well. Stuff like 'when I was young, ouch' are really fun lines to me.

-But even at that, I have to say that the conclusion is lame as hell. I don't like Manik and Sonia being the ones to lay the final hit in on Tikhaos. I can understand the idea of 'the newer generation rising up', and being fair - the only reason they pulled the hit off was because Sonic distracted Tikhaos, but it doesn't change the fact they sort of just screwed Sonic over there to raise up his kids. I think it would've been more effective if Sonic said something like 'Without my super form, I don't know if I'm strong enough to damage the brain', so Sonic, Sonia and Manik all hit it together, it would've done an effective job of showing the kids off as capable while not making Sonic look like a chump at the same time.

-The sad expression of regret on Tikhal's face when she's finally brought down is absolutely heartbreaking. It's so sad to see her like this.

-I really like the image of Mina getting hyped up, and Sonic & Tails talking about this being like old times, and it makes me wish we could've got more of that in the issue. I really wanna see more Sonic & Tails action here.

-Knuckles: The Return is next up, and I'm interested to see what you think of it. To me, it's always been one of the more surprising and underrated Universe arcs.

I agree with what you wrote here close to 100% :)

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Dr. Detective Mike

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #201: Change in Management 

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On the Bumblekast, Ian Flynn spoke about how the Iron Dominion Arc was the “joke idea” amongst a collection of “actual” ideas that he presented to the editor. The idea was that if he threw in one really bad, weird, outlandish idea that no one in their right mind would ever approve, it would give a boost to the other ideas he thought would be better. Unfortunately, the editor liked the really strange and weird one he threw in there and it flabbergasted him a bit. However, he does think he managed to make something unique out of it.

I would have to concur, at least as far as memory serves. The Iron Dominion Arc is the first huge arc I actually got to follow in the Archie Comics. As such, it’s got a special place in my heart regardless of what I’ll end up saying about it upon revisit. I also have a lot of memories about the internet’s reactions to this arc because this was around the time where I decided to start looking for people who were actually reading the comics. I told the story of that one hilarious weirdo that talked about how they ripped their comic in half when Sonic went to go out for something to eat with Amy and Sally went with Ken. The methodology put towards slowly trying to mend Sonic and Sally’s relationship after that slap was admirable, in my opinion, but a lot of people who gave a shit about that relationship had lost any semblance of patience they had left. Either that, or more plausibly, they seriously believed that Ian was going to keep Sally and Ken together, which I couldn’t imagine contemplating as a plausible conclusion to come to as far as MY OWN perception of his writing. 

There’s so much to think about and talk about with this little section of the comic’s history so let’s just get into it.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

Unlike the M30YL arc, this issue I have is a bit torn and worn down. I’ve flipped through this issue a lot of times, most likely because it was a good reference for art. 

What’s strange about the start of this issue is that the character intro boxes has a part where Regina is blacked out and her name is a bunch of question marks. This would make sense if this were an unrelated issue of Sonic Universe but this is Issue #201. We saw her face and Snively said her name at the end of Issue #200 so I’m not sure why this is like this.

We begin the story proper with everyone attending a concert of Mina’s band, the “Forget Me Knots”, made up entirely of characters from the scrapped Sonic 1 Sound Test (aside from Vector, obviously) where Sonic is still in a bit of a downer mood.

Sally is trying to urge him to stop moping, which Sonic denies he’s doing but then lays it out there what he’s thinking and feeling about the bittersweet victory they achieved the other day. 

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No, Sonic. You are making sense. It’s stuff like this that goes hand in hand with how, despite being really rough around the edges, deep down, you’re a really kind person. 

The depths to which Sonic and Scourge are total opposites becomes more and more evident as time goes on. It’s a really wonderful showcase of how two people with confident, arrogant, prideful personalities can be portrayed as heroic and the other can be portrayed as a completely irredeemable monster. 

It’s scenes like this that should have helped me see more of the obvious good nature to Sonic in these books then I initially gave him credit for back in the day. I’ve no idea why I would hand-wave his concerns off like this but for whatever reason my bias towards Eggman just didn’t allow me to see it. On top of that, I was still ignorant to all the stuff Eggman had done in the books by that point. The doctor has had so many different portrayals it wouldn’t have made sense to assume he was AS big a maniac as he actually turned out to be as far as I was concerned. But he was.

Sonic didn’t do what he did to drive anyone to insanity and give them a mental handicap. It’s easy to see why him doing something like that would weigh so heavily on him.

Anyway, Mina’s concert gets interrupted by a lightning bolt and out of the sky comes Monkey Khan!

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A character we have not seen for an extremely long time. The brazen way in which he explodes onto the scene and starts shitting on everyone here surprised me a bit when I first read this. I had never seen him before but the way he talked and carried himself going forward gave me the impression that he was a lot more stable than he actually was. I’m not sure why that was the case in my mind either. I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting and things I ignored about his portrayal in this arc too. 

Of course, having read the earlier issues, I now know that he’s definitely got a tendency for being violent. He’s going to go through some heavy character development in the upcoming arc and I recall finding it a very charming character study.

As of right now, all I can really think of is how cute the little Ash and Mina scene at the top of the page is there. She almost gets struck by lightning and in the next panel he’s right there. It’s sweet.  

We cut to Espio, briefly, as he’s meditating alone in a more Eastern looking bedroom that’s just in the city I suppose. It doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t want to attend the concert but he rushes on over there the instant he sees lightning flash across the sky and deduces there’s trouble.

Back at the concert, Sonic and Khan are fighting until Sally gets in their way. She tells Sonic to cool it and then tells Khan that if he’s got a problem with them then he should just say that instead of showing up with a dangerous lightshow. I like how Khan reluctantly admits that he could have handled introductions better but seeing them all partying got his dander up.

Khan tells Sally that the Eggman Empire is… something. Sally interrupts him before he finishes so that she can say Eggman has been defeated and that means it should be in collapse. He’s flabbergasted by that ascertain and just tells her that all they did was change who was in charge.

Really, this scene kind of highlights a little too much the mistake they made that I was willing to hand wave last time for the sake of the narrative but… I guess with it being pointed out like this I should be fair and address that Khan does have a bit of a point. 

I mean, you know… I get it. I do actually really like the scene at the end of Issue #200 where Snively walks in and tells them what’s going to happen next and the heroes just leaving the two of them to it. It feels a bit more like the regular, standard Sonic fare that I’m more fond of, I suppose. I know that in this comic it’s technically a dumb decision because of the different circumstances and the set-up but I typically tend to like it when the heroes and villains go their separate ways to lick their wounds in Sonic media rather then seeing the heroes just throw the villains in jail. 

I have no logical argument to make in favor of it. It’s just a personal preference.

Of course, their decision not to keep tabs on the place has allowed Regina, the Iron Queen, to take hold of the empire and we cut to her new lodgings.

We get a report from Conquering Storm that the Yagyu Clan has scoured New Megaopolis and has found that it’s all been turned to jank. Regina gives Snively a little compliment for his work but the Iron King here doesn’t seem too happy about their little arrangement.

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I’m sure they’ll be the best of friends.

The weirdness of the Iron Queen being wed to a giant Ox man is still palpable here. I’m not entirely sure how the Iron Dominion works but I’m sure I’ll get as much of an eyeful as I possibly can here.

There was a lot of talk about clans and tradition and what not that ended up being tossed around throughout these stories, especially during the accompanying SU Arc. I remember the third issue of that arc being one of my absolute favorite SU issues in the whole series because of how messed up it was but the rest I recall being an immeasurable amount of talking and conversations about things that rapidly flew over my head.

I didn’t recall Conquering Storm appearing before now and it turns out I was right. The end of Issue #200 is her first appearance. Looking at this, you’d think she was the leader of the Yagyu here but no. She’s the leader of the Raiju Clan, who are ALL lynxes, which doubles back to the third SU issue of Journey to the East.

One quick little google search put all that into perspective rather quickly. I’m sure it’ll all become even more clear as things go on. 

Anyway, Dimitri scuttles in to reap the rewards for helping Snively out with his Coup d'état. He’s determined to try and fix the MASSIVE fucking mistake Lien-Da made by leading the rest of them into the clutches of Eggman when all Dimitri tried to do initially was seek help from the doctor with Enerjak.

So, he explains his plight to Regina and what do you know, his gift is MORE microchips to implant into his people.

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Dimitri is so tired of this bullshit. He’s so done.

You can tell by the look on his face and their faces that the pleasantries they just exchanged were a crock of baloney. 
Snively calls him a poor trusting fool when he leaves but it’s obvious he doesn’t “trust” them but he also knows he’s kind of up shit creek without a paddle.

I’m really loving just how much this re-read is putting into perspective how good a character Dimitri was and how obvious it was that Lien-Da was just not the right pick for this job despite her heavy ambition. I feel for the guy.

Then Regina delights in how she and Snively are alone at last.

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Yeah, you know what, I’ll toast to their partnership. It’s the weird couples that make for the most interesting of unions in stories. I’m already more invested in the two of them than I ever have been for Sonic and Sally.

Back in New Mobotropolis, Khan finishes explaining the situation of Regina’s take over to the others and they prepare to rally together to handle her.

A funny little thing to note is that Elias notes that they need to handle this new threat and Khan just takes that as a chance to grill him and the others again about how they did the same thing to Eggman and shit is still bad. 

Sally isn’t letting this get her down though. With a sly, confident smirk she tries to speak about rallying the others as well as getting into contact with the resistance groups in Stormtop Village and what not.

Khan immediately gets even more downtrodden when she mentions this though. He just says there aren’t any other resistance groups. I have flashes in my memory of a story where Khan’s entire home was demolished by the Eggman Empire. Maybe that’ll come up down the line here again.

It’s stuff like this that makes me recognize the importance of getting into a series early. Marathoning something this long can tend to leave gaps in the recollection of what you’ve experienced.

Sonic says, in that case, him and Khan will just zip over and kick them out, which catches Khan’s attention and makes Sally go “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

Sonic tries to assure her that he’s beaten them before so it should be fine but Sally warns that they can’t be total push-overs if they took over the empire. Khan’s rivalry gland has been activated and he pushes for Sonic to do it so he can see him get a little humbled, although, a part of him probably thinks they can manage too. They’re both completely ignoring Sally at this point so she reluctantly gives the okay but warns that this mission is only for recon to which Sonic responds by saying “And if we happen to liberate Mobius along the way, it’s a happy bonus. Got it.”

Yeah, he’s just straight up ignoring her. I do tend to like moments like these because it feels a little vindicating, thinking about how unnecessary a lot of the perfunctory of the Freedom Fighter system is. 

As they head off, Sonic asks Khan if he can get an apology for all the things he’s said and done to him and Khan says he will if he gets one in return to which Sonic just laughs. Pretty dickish thing to say but hey, Khan made his grand entrance like a dick too so they’re more alike than they probably realize.

Then the conversation leads somewhere interesting.

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Oh-ho. That’s the face of a guy who’s ready to smash.

Immediately, as soon as they leave, Conquering Storm arrives in the chamber to warn them that Sonic and Khan are heading for the city. That was impossibly fast. Their networking must be legendary.

Regina and Snively aren’t worried of course. She says this means the fight for this continent will be over before it begins.

Also funny is how when Conquering Storm arrives, Snively has to hurriedly hop off her lap to maintain appearances. It’s pretty good.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #201: Devotion

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: Teresa Davidson

Been a while since we’ve had backup stories.

Espio is on his way towards the stadium and we see why it is that he never makes it. Nicole shows up to tell Espio what’s what but the chameleon immediately hurls a kunai knife at a guest.

It’s my boy Lightning Lynx!

Nicole says something is off and that she’s not detecting the rest of the Destructix. Lightning says that’s because he’s not with them anymore and that he’s here on clan business.

He then proceeds to explain using a bunch of words in a string of sentences that made no sense to me at the time but makes a remarkable amount of sense now that I know what happened already.

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Although, to be honest, I’m still not confident I have the structure of this down.

With some quick searching, I’ve managed to put together the little tidbits that Lightning here is saying that I wasn’t sure about. Like, I had no idea who the Bride of Rich Nights was and why she was so important. Because I didn’t understand the structure of what was going on, hearing things like “The Clan Wars” and terms like “Brides” being thrown around just confused the shit out of me.

The Bride of Rich Nights, as it turns out, is just the leader of the Yagyu Clan. Well, former leader. She dead now. The reason I thought she might have been more significant is because she was name dropped first and him saying that the other clans fell into place after this event made me think that maybe the Bride of Rich Nights was some sort of massive overseer of all the clans… but that would conflict with the mention of there being a Clan War.

I probably would have just written it off as just being complicated but I see now that it was just him explaining that the rest of the clans just fell into the Iron Dominion after the Yagyu Clan was taken. 

I’m sure they all had their various reasons, most likely all coming down to self preservation, but at least things are more clear now. 

This was something I wasn’t willing to let myself just re-experience with the story. I needed to search this on a wiki because for this whole time, the stuff with the clans kind of just escaped me. I understand now that they’re all separate with their own species and their own brides and the Iron Dominion just kind of swooped in and took over. 

So now, Espio, who’s apparently a member of the Shinobi Clan, has new orders from Constant Vigil (again, names are being thrown around and at the time I had no idea who they were or what they meant) that Espio needs to see.

Lightning Lynx is here because Conquering Storm recognized the importance of having an agent already established within the region. At the time this statement meant nothing to me but putting it towards what I know happens later gives it more significance.

A lot of stuff is being established here and my teenage brain at the time just didn’t absorb any of it. 

But I gathered that the point was largely that Espio’s hands were tied because of loyalty he had to some other group or region somewhere else and that group worked for the Iron Dominion, which meant he did too.

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So there you have it. Espio and Lightning Lynx are off to star in their new buddy cop drama. He’s left Nicole submerged in absolute confusion. What a day.

For a beginning issue to this arc, it does a lot to establish what’s going on in a really, really fast way. Probably too fast if I’m honest but considering how long this arc ends up being, it’s probably ultimately for the best. I’ll say that the stuff about the Brides and the Clans was really hard to take in back in the day. I remember enjoying this arc for the most part because the main gist of what was happening still managed to bleed it’s way through, though, the abject confusion on how it was the Iron Dominion worked in tandem with these clans made it so that I had very little to actually contribute with regards to discussion about that. 

So instead, I mostly focused on the character development happening. Most of it I really liked. Some of it I didn’t. I remember really not being fond of any of the stuff that was done with Espio later, for example, but those are opinions for a later day. Right now, I like the idea of his betrayal just not where it leads.


Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #202: Dangerous Territory 

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Ah! Such a pretty cover! What a way of showing off what’s about to go down. If you’ve gotta draw characters on a cover, running at the reader, you’d better make it look good. The oppressive golden sheen on our heroes here and the use of purple really sells the royal aspect of it all.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Steven Butler
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
The dialogue that starts this issue is a little weird.

“So Eggman’s city got taken over by the same Iron King and Queen we tackled at Mt. Stormtop?” asks Sonic.

“Yes. Did you hear nothing I told Princess Sally?” asks Khan back.

“You thought I was paying attention? HA! Cute!” Sonic responds.

It’s a very, very weird exchange to me. I read that and for some reason it felt more like someone was flailing a bit in an attempt to write Sonic some witty dialogue. It’s such a strange reason for Sonic to trout out the “Cute” line too. Also, there’s a part of me that wonders why he’s asking if he didn’t care enough about what was happening to pay attention.

Yeah, this opening scene could have been written better. Sonic’s snark can be challenging to write well so I’m not going to harp on it too much but it wasn’t a good way to start things off.

Khan is about to get on his case for being a kid but they get ambushed by the Dark Egg Legion. Khan asks Sonic who they are and he explains in a fairly quick manner that summarizes things nicely. They’re a bunch of the remnants of Knuckles’ people that have a “mad-on” for technology and they have a bad habit of picking the losing side.

Lien-Da swoops in and basically says it’s because of a pride thing before her floating pod is immediately blown up. So, she tells the Dark Egg Legion to move out and for the Yagyu to jump in. 

Sonic doesn’t know who they are because this is their first appearance in full. Khan takes time to explain the situation about the clans and how “Bride” is an honorific title and what not.

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As Lien-Da pointed out when they started battering him about, Sonic’s snark has gone down a bit. Although, these guys are still just mooks. I do myself a disservice by not allowing myself to suspend my disbelief enough that there aren’t also at least two people in this Yagyu clan that can stand up to these two random motherfuckers that they just ambushed. I know that’s not how being a main character works though.

That isn’t to say they’re not having a tough time of course. Credit where it’s due, these guys are indeed giving them a run for their money in ways that the pathetic Dark Egg Legion could only hope to do. 

Sonic and Khan think they might be fine but then finally, a main character arrives and they get the shit kicked out of them without him having to do anything but stand there and block an attack.

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As an aside, I love the Iron King.

Whenever I talk about wanting more proper threats in this book, this is what I’m talking about. Obviously, not every threat can or even should be as impenetrable as this dude but it helps having more guys like him around. Lien-Da is a main character as well but her status as one falls more into the order giver type so far.

I love that Sonic trying to homing attack him just damages himself instead and I love how his Tremor Mace is just insanely powerful in a way that the comic sells you on by having the entire panel and the art shift about when he makes the scene.

The progression in which things are getting worse for them and how Sonic is being proven to have been absolutely WRONG in thinking he could just waltz in with two people and kick them all out is great. 

Then another main character shows up and Holy Hera, it’s another one that isn’t on Sonic’s side, which means he’s also allowed to land a decent blow.

This exchange is hilarious by the way.

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Oh yeah. I love it. Feels great. It’s like Espio just got him back for me after the way he began this issue. 

As Khan calls out Sonic for being slow on the uptake, Lightning Lynx tackles him from the side. Because he’s a Lynx, Khan knows he’s from the Raiju Clan but doesn’t recognize him specifically. Lightning Lynx introduces himself as being a servant of Conquering Storm and as having his honor restored.

Oh dear. I know where this is heading and it’ll forever be on that list of things I’m sad I never got to witness the continuation of concerning this continuity. 

Sonic is fighting Espio and is trying to get him to talk, clearly confused by the betrayal. He assumes it’s mind control and asks him to punch once for yes and two for no. But then he kicks him which throws Sonic off.

He attacks Espio straight on but is then attacked by the Yagyu. Lightning tries to land more hits on Khan but Khan shocks him with his staff only for the Dark Egg Legion to be useful for the first time and fire laser blasts into Khan’s body.

He falls right beside the demolished Sonic and we get another actually good exchange.

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So yes, Sally was right but Sonic doing this anyway and finding it out himself was something that was going to happen regardless of the warning so it doesn’t matter. 

This is more my speed when it comes to Sonic’s writing though. I like how, when served a slice of humble pie, he’ll still try to eat around it and then, when called out, he’ll straight up admit to the fact that he’s doing it all with a smile on his face.

The Iron King asks them to join the Dominion and Sonic asks about the dental plan but Khan stops him because sarcasm is lost on him, to which Sonic considers a pity.

So instead, he has Khan fly away on his magic flying nimbus, all with a smirk on his face.

Lien-Da is about to do the smart thing and shoot them down but the theatrical Iron King stops her. When asked why (after almost forgetting he’s her superior) the Iron King responds with some bullshit poetry he wrote.

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This speech about poisoning the morale and the humiliation of their loss being juxtaposed with Khan’s determined look and Sonic’s cheeky smirk really sells just how much of a dummy our glorious king is being right now. However, it’s great. I love that this overpowered doofus is also overconfident. They even talked about how the only thing that they can beat him with was that Fan thing that they no longer have access to because the Yagyu stole it. It makes perfect sense that this impenetrable wall of ox isn’t worried about letting them go in the slightest.

Back at home, Sonic is looking more serious as he explains to Elias, Sally, and Knuckles what happened, all while covered in bruises and dirt. He even tells them about Lightning Lynx and Espio. Knuckles is a bit confused since he thought Espio was from Rainbow Valley and there’s no ninja clan there. The obvious conclusion is that he lied to you, my boy.

Elias asks Sonic if he’d be okay with relaying all the news in full to the council tomorrow and Sonic happily agrees.

Meanwhile, Khan is sulking in the background which catches Sally’s attention. They start by addressing each other as “Princess” and “Khan” but switch to the less formal “Sally” and “Ken” in mid-conversation.

Sally tries to cheer him up with talk of “set-backs” but Ken just considers this just another failure and makes mention of being a king.

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This bottom text-box thankfully highlights for me that Ken being a king was something that wasn’t true before and thus is supposed to be surprising. I would have just let the comment pass me by had it not done that honestly. 


Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #202: A Lonely Girl’s Story

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Jamal Peppers
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John E. Workman, Jr.

We check in on Regina and Snively. They’re laughing while laying together by the window, overlooking their Dark Empire. The ribbons above them each have the symbols of the clans that work under them above. 

It’s actually kind of fun how the ending of the last issue showed these two wearing confident smirks and in the beginning of this story, they’re laughing together about the aftermath of what just happened with Sonic and Ken running away. It’s a really effective way of getting across that the Iron Dominion means business. Sonic didn’t even make it that far before he had to go back.

With this peace, however, Snively realizes that he’s told his story to Regina but he knows so very little about her. She says it’s not a very happy story but tells him since he insisted. What a shockingly healthy relationship this is.

So anyway, Regina was born into a cult.

It was the Cult of Technomages. Technomages learned a kind of magic that allowed them to control electric pulses in things.

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Everything was hunky dory until it wasn’t.

Somehow, the cult was eventually found out and they were arrested. Or rather, apparently, they were put to death. Regina was allowed to live… in exile, due to her age.

She left the Overlanders and, in a scene depicting Jules and Chuck chasing her down with a motorbike of some sort, was driven off by the Mobians. 

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This likely could have been a Hope Kintobor situation had the Great War not been going on at the time. Times were different. Max was king. They weren’t as accepting as they are now. Plus, I realize that Regina even says she wouldn’t have wanted to be with them but the point still stands. Their upbringing kind of made them all… a certain way most likely.

Everyone’s had a chance to change but Regina just kind of didn’t get that luxury. She wandered through snow, hid in caves with the rain pouring outside, and eventually found herself in the Dragon Kingdom where she kissed up to a younger Jun Kun to increase her access to power and status.

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It’s cute how enthralled and concerned by the story Snively is but Regina just lightly shuts it down, saying that’s all she wants to say for the moment. He doesn’t pry and they settle down together for the night.

… I know they’re bad guys but come on. It’s really cute. I hope things go well for them.

It won’t but I still hope it does.

That issue was excellent. The entire thing was awesome from start to finish. What a way to sell you on this awesome new threat. The build up was so well done too. You start with the Dark Egg Legion and then you just move in with the bigger and bigger threats and surprises. Eventually, each hit the heroes landed ended up being immediately followed by them getting a barrage of hits landing on them until it was clear they weren’t going to win. The little Regina story at the end was also thankfully very simple and succinct, ending on a very nice little quiet image to counter-balance all the high octane action that had been present throughout. Fantastic. 


Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #203: Heavy is the Head, Part One: Surprise Visit 

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Alright! We’re finally here! We’re finally getting knee-deep into what I like to call the “Era of the Covers Fucking Lying to You” and all it’s spoils. Truthfully, the covers have always been a symbolic depiction of what you can or can’t expect to see once you open the book. At least that’s true for the ones that aren’t just a picture of Sonic and nothing else.

However, we’re about to get a couple of covers that aren’t really symbolic of anything but instead take what happens in the issue and twists it to mean something technically different. They all have to do with betrayal too. Like, you look at this cover and what do you see? Bunnie Rabbot, angrily holding down Sonic and readying her arm cannon to blast his face off. The lie is in the expression of course. You’d be forgiven for seeing the original solicits for this issue and engaging in a conversation about what it was that made Bunnie also turn on everyone like Espio. What clan did SHE belong to? Uncle Beauregard’s House of Flapjacks? 

Nope. When you read the issue, it’s something else. It’s a good way of getting the readers to pick up your book but I’ve always found it unfortunate that the covers of this time felt the need to depict something that they KNEW damn well was a more tantalizing and interesting idea to hook them into reading something that just made them go “Oh” in comparison as a result. Not saying that I think Bunnie actually doing this would have been a good idea but it’s definitely a more interesting hook.

What’s funny is that the next cover does something similar but the idea that the book goes with is actually cooler than what’s shown on that cover. I don’t know why they felt the need to make it seem different for that one but we’ll get there when we get there.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Steven Butler
Inks: Terry Austin & Jim Amash
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

The issue begins with the three kids, Rory, Snaggle, and Sasha from the babysitting stories with Rosy throwing fucking rocks at Ken! 

Like, holy shit. I know this is fantasy animal land where people can destroy boulders with their fists but I can’t help but imagine being bombarded by constant rocks in real life as a human. Like, small pebbles would definitely still draw blood if thrown fast enough but these are pretty big.

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Like, damn. The Acorn Kingdom has some hardcore lessons it’s teaching it’s children. 

As an aside, I find it really funny that the description for these three just says “Orphans”. Like it’s their epithet or something. Or some kind of team name.

Sonic comes by and takes the rocks from them, trying to talk them down using grown-up logic, forgetting that he too is basically a child and is left stumped when the children point out his hypocrisy.

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You could try a little bit harder than that Sonic. There’s no use letting three children outsmart you like that. Maybe say that the situation was different because one of Ken’s lightning bolts almost hit Mina. I dunno. 

Well, it doesn’t matter because Ken just calmly explains the situation himself and walks off with his head down.

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Evidently not. 

I mean, how do you know Rosy wasn’t taking them out back for target practice with machine guns on some Sonic dolls like they weren’t training to get into Eggman’s army? She could be a huge proponent of casting the first stone if you know what I mean.

Sonic goes after them and as expected, he’s initially very bad at cheering the dude up, grabbing him and giving him a noogie while commenting on how much better his temper has gotten. It’s a very easy thing to rile someone up when they’re already in a bad mood and your strategy is to fire off annoying commentary and then give them painful head swivels.

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Yeah, I can’t blame him. I’d have reacted the same way. Especially way back when this book was released. My temper was so easily flared up that sometimes it didn’t even make sense. Of course, it was always because I was sad or upset about something so as Ken continues to bark about his troubles, he eventually calms down back to the solemn sulk he was in.

Eggman really did just swoop in and wreck his whole life up; on numerous levels. His homeland was destroyed and the Four Houses just started warring with each other. They attached some sort of prophecy of being the Monkey King to him and he didn’t live up to it. Thank God I don’t have THAT kind of pressure to deal with. I can barely handle my own.

Sonic takes a much less hyperactive approach with the reassurances here, ending his statement by saying that it’s not over yet and it’s not like the bad guys are on the offensive yet. He says this right before Nicole calls an emergency about hostels outside of the city. His heart is in the right place at least.

She informs them that Regina and Snively made it over before she could raise the shields. Something is interfering with her network. Sonic says that this is fine and is about to encourage Ken to come with but he rushes off with a spooked look on his face, leaving Sonic confused.

Meanwhile, Snively and Regina make snide comments about the Republic of Acorn while Sally and the Freedom Fighters stand below them.

In a hilarious scene, Sally calls up to them and tells them to surrender.

It’s really fucking funny. I’m sorry. I’m just imagining her taking control of that entire empire, getting the Four Houses under her control, dominating Sonic and Ken in that fight and then coming here to stir up some trouble and then… she surrenders because Sally, someone she’s never met before, told her to.

I almost wish she pretended she was going to just to see Sally's reaction. There’s no way she didn’t say that aloud as some sort of formality. 

Anyway, Regina and Snively continue their casual conversation as she nonchalantly ruptures Tails’ bowels and spleen by taking control of Bunnie’s robotic limbs and making her smash her arm into his entire body.

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Look at that angry expression on Bunnie’s face. She sure looks like she wants to do this.

Regina explains that she’s a technomage and admonishes Ken for not telling the rest this information. Then she does her “MREE HEE-HEE-HEE” One Piece laugh as she sicks Bunnie on the others.

She attacks them all but in the ensuing scenes, the only one who doesn’t manage to properly block her hits is Tails. This time his lungs got full of fiery exhaust from her feet.

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Not a good day for Tails at all so far.

Sonic arrives and puts her into a contraption… cell that Nicole rigged out of nanites to lock her down until she’s safe again. At first the two of them think this will be enough but then Regina engages her arm cannon and she easily blasts out of there.

Regina uses Bunnie like a metal puppet until we end up on a scene where she suddenly looks like death. Apparently, because she’s only Half-Robian, her rockets and blasters all run on her life-force.

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I didn’t know that. I just thought the machine parts did the machine stuff and once they were out of juice that was it for right then.

I guess it makes sense though. It’s not like she’s a cyborg or that these are technological enhancements. Literally, her body was turned half way robotic so that literally IS her body. It makes sense that using her weapons would use up her life force.

A part of me felt a twinge of delight when Sally excluded Julie-Su there, I won’t lie. Petty? Oh yeah. Absolutely.

The three kids that were throwing rocks at Ken earlier ask him to save Bunnie. Ken says he can’t but “whichever one his name is” says that Ken has to because “It’s his job” or something. Whatever that means.

It’s not a good idea but he does it thanks to the emotional manipulation of some kids that were assaulting him earlier. 

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He looks badass doing it too. 

Bunnie falls from the sky and lands in Antoine’s arms. Sally orders her taken back to Freedom HQ and Sonic obliges. Meanwhile, Khan is now directly in front of the woman who can control the cybernetics in his body. It’s understandable that he’s not able to speak to her without stuttering and stammering. 

He honestly should just fly away but he doesn’t. Snively removes his ring crown while he’s facing Regina and that gives her carte blanche to launch her technomagic zappity-zaps onto his body.

I didn’t quite get this back in the day despite her saying that he has cybernetics running throughout his entire body. I guess my mind just didn’t want to allow itself to think that a character with this kind of design was full of cybernetics. It even said so in his character intro screen. 

Well, if it wasn’t obvious before it is now.

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Look at that. He looks gnarly as hell. I’d have been all for the next cover showing THIS coming at Sonic instead of what it actually is with him being normal. I suppose it might have spoiled the design but I don’t know if I would have cared. Seeing this design coming at Sonic in one of the upcoming covers probably would have been more effective as far as drumming up personal excitement. Sometimes it pays to tell the truth. 

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #203: Friend in Deed, Part One

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Jamal Peppers
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman

Knuckles is standing alone on his island by the Master Emerald, going over in his head what he was told with regards to Espio’s very sudden betrayal. He thought he was from Rainbow Valley here on Angel Island but turns out he’s been fooled, bamboozled, and smeckledorfed.

Espio tries to sneak up on Knuckles but Knuckles turns around and spots him instantly.

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This is one of those rare cases where the art and colors on a page have reached enlightenment. The way this side-story looks is absolute perfection. It’s inhumanely pretty to look at.

The two of them have their little stare down and Knuckles even tries to pull the old, “Hmm. Sure wish I had a FRIEND here to help protect the Master Emerald from these new tyrants. Preferably one who’d totally not betray me.”

Espio doesn’t fall for it and they have a very brief scuffle.

Somehow, when Knuckles jumps off his altar towards Espio, Espio manages to grab two of his flowing locks and I guess swings him around to the cliff-edge. Following it with my eyes, that’s how it would make sense but the point is, Espio is in range to shiv his old friend.

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This is all so very strange. Not the part about Espio attacking Knuckles. I actually can buy that a lot easier because I don’t typically see these two as close friends. No, the strange thing is that I’m supposed to see the two of them as close friends and that’s got me feeling a bit off.

I know there’s a crowd out there that considers the original Chaotix on the 32X to be the actual Chaotix group. Unless you had a 32X and played that game growing up or were introduced to the Chaotix through these comics I’m afraid I can’t share that same feeling.

I was hoping my read-through of these comics would put me in a position where I’d be able to understand their friendship a bit more but having combed through ALL of them and making it back to this point again, I’m sorry to say that I still just don’t see it.

It’s not Ian’s fault of course. The fault lies squarely with how the book handled the Chaotix before this point. They largely were all just there. If they were Knuckles’ friends, it only really showed through some haphazard scenes sprinkled in here and there and some interchangeable dialogue. The only one who got any real focus on this front as far as genuine “development” concerning his standing as Knuckles’ friend was Vector and even then, it came about mostly as a result of his “death” and confiding in Julie-Su, someone the two of us both hate.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Vector himself at that point was insufferable. He was just terrible. It was hard to care what he thought about most things regardless.

So this isn’t as big a deal as it feels like it wants it to be to me. I can definitely see the through-line here. They’ve spent such a tremendous amount of time with one another even if most of it was invaded by endless flashbacks to Echidna society and what the echidnas were doing with their technology and elections and shit. Fuck. I’m so happy I don’t have to read any more of that garbage.

No matter what, there was always going to be a hurdle getting me to wean my mind away from the Chaotix I grew up with in Heroes but unfortunately, the way this book was written before Ian, didn’t help matters on that front at all. I’m still not even sure what the Chaotix are in this book.

This was another great issue. The tension is ramping up as we see how the threat of the Iron Dominion is most definitely no joke. Even with their impenetrable mountain of OX not present for this, Regina and Snively manage to make the Freedom Fighters look like buffoons with it literally just being the two of them. Reading this over now, I must say I truly didn’t give how much build up they were getting enough credit. It feels blindingly obvious now but this definitely has not been smooth sailing for our heroes… and that’s GREAT! Please, more of this! It’ll feel all the better once the heroes win, which, I’m delighted to say, I remember feeling really positive about back in the day. I can’t wait to read that conclusion again.

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9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

On the Bumblekast, Ian Flynn spoke about how the Iron Dominion Arc was the “joke idea” amongst a collection of “actual” ideas that he presented to the editor. The idea was that if he threw in one really bad, weird, outlandish idea that no one in their right mind would ever approve, it would give a boost to the other ideas he thought would be better. Unfortunately, the editor liked the really strange and weird one he threw in there and it flabbergasted him a bit. However, he does think he managed to make something unique out of it.

I would have to concur, at least as far as memory serves. The Iron Dominion Arc is the first huge arc I actually got to follow in the Archie Comics. As such, it’s got a special place in my heart

...Maybe I should sit this one out then because honestly I kinda think it's Ian's weakest story and shows a loy of my least favorite qualities of his as a writer. Namely that it's too fucking long.

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Either that, or more plausibly, they seriously believed that Ian was going to keep Sally and Ken together, which I couldn’t imagine contemplating as a plausible conclusion to come to as far as MY OWN perception of his writing. 

Yeah...but I honestly kinda think they make for a better couple and genuinely kinda wish Sal took Ken up on his offer but eh what do I know? 

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

The depths to which Sonic and Scourge are total opposites becomes more and more evident as time goes on. It’s a really wonderful showcase of how two people with confident, arrogant, prideful personalities can be portrayed as heroic and the other can be portrayed as a completely irredeemable monster. 

THANK YOU! I swear I once ran across someone who told me that Scourge being a complete unrepentant dickhead doesn't make him Sonic's perfect opposite. 

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

 

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Ok I know Iron King is from an Asian inspired continent but I can't not read him as Michael Dorn. It's just like...he's the perfect choice IMHO.

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Espio is on his way towards the stadium and we see why it is that he never makes it. Nicole shows up to tell Espio what’s what but the chameleon immediately hurls a kunai knife at a guest.

It’s my boy Lightning Lynx!

I kinda love the fact Lightning just is a Ninja now out of the blue. Kinda fits with Espio having to be retconned after years of not being one.

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

With some quick searching, I’ve managed to put together the little tidbits that Lightning here is saying that I wasn’t sure about. Like, I had no idea who the Bride of Rich Nights was and why she was so important. Because I didn’t understand the structure of what was going on, hearing things like “The Clan Wars” and terms like “Brides” being thrown around just confused the shit out of me.

I mean that's kinda the point. You aren't supposed to know what they're talking about until the backstory starts getting spelled out in later parts.

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Sonic is fighting Espio and is trying to get him to talk, clearly confused by the betrayal. He assumes it’s mind control and asks him to punch once for yes and two for no. But then he kicks him which throws Sonic off.

Y'know Ian started making fun of the use of mind control because people on Bumbleking were teasing about it but really outside of Enerjak I am hard pressed to think of a time he or really anyone ever really relied on mind control in the book. 

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Pencils: Jamal Peppers

Hey its Jamal Peppers debut! ...I'm kinda hot and cold with him honestly. There's nothing wrong with his art but his art is one of the few times I can agree with people on the art being stiff. He's very on model but that comes at the expense of dynamic action.

 

9 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

 

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Geez! Say what you will about Steven Butler but the man knows how to draw some crunchy hits. I can just feel that looking at it.

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
On 9/20/2021 at 1:53 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Lightning Lynx introduces himself as being a servant of Conquering Storm…

Yeah, fuck him…

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Dr. Detective Mike

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #204: Heavy is the Head, Part Two: Iron Khan

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Another wild and wickedly good looking cover. While this one is technically another one that doesn’t tell the whole truth since it opts for using Khan’s normal form rather than his awesome looking Iron Khan form, it still manages to sell him as a savage beast, ready to demolish Sonic like the God of Thunder demanding to be brought a Thanos. I do wonder what the cover would look like had it been Iron Khan instead but it really does sell the look. Sometimes the light can be just as scary and fierce looking as the darkness.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Steven Butler
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

The issue opens on Sally saying the expected line of “You gotta fight it” to Ken and Ken’s response is that he’s the divine weapon of the Iron Dominion. His mind is fully controlled and his reaction sells it properly. I truly do believe that the opening line Sally gave just flew in one ear and out the other.

He then attacks them while exclaiming that he am glorious.

The one kid, I think his name is Rory, shouts at Khan to stop and he responds by trying to bludgeon him and his two friends to bits by using his electric staff as a golf club against them. He manages to bring up an impressive amount of dirt but Sonic rescues them, complaining that all he’s done so far is rescue and carry people around.

Sally explains to Sonic quickly that Regina is using technomagic to control The Momotaro Monkey of Archie Sonic and asks him not to hurt Ken when he goes to fight him. Sonic’s response was the same as mine.

 “Don’t hurt HIM, she says.” Sonic muses as he rushes in to try and fight off the crazed looking Halloween Alt. of Ken on his Dark Flying Nimbus.

Sonic tries to do the “Snap out of it” speech again but thankfully Regina spares us by saying that his cybernetics run too deep. It’s not going to work.

Also not helping is Snively snapping his power ring crown in half. Wuh-oh.

Sonic gets an idea at that moment and tells Sally and the rest to stall him. He’s about to get got by Khan but his attack is intercepted by Antoine. It’s a very upset Antoine too.

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Despite Ken flying in and becoming this monster as a result of saving his wife, Antoine is still pissed at him for not properly telling them about the enemy’s powers or the fact that he was such a liability. 

I saw Antoine giving the flying Evil Monster Ken an angry look earlier in the issue and I wondered if it was a look of anger directed squarely at Ken or if he was just mad at the situation but seeing him lay it all out makes it fairly transparent; he’s not offering any leeway despite the fact that Ken did indeed save Bunnie when it didn’t look like anyone else was capable of it.

This is a very interesting and understandable reaction of course. I can totally see where Antoine is coming from, especially since a flash of me wondering why Ken didn’t properly disclose this to them earlier crossed my mind as well. I’m sure it was something personal but it hardly matters when something this big is happening because it leads to affecting more than one person. 

That said, I find most of my sympathy, at the moment, leaning towards Ken here since I know facing devastating situations and dealing with intense, terrible failure one after another can really screw someone up. I truly tend to admire those who can somehow summon the strength to continue with their efforts despite that. I can only hope he takes the aftermath of this situation as well as possible.

As of right now, we stop this part of the scene with Vector and Mighty trying to hold him down and Ken about to blow them away with a tremendous “Tumultuous Thunderclap of the Enraged”, which sounds like something that would kill you, shock you back to life, and kill you again in the span of 3 seconds.

Meanwhile, Sonic is pacing by the Lake of Rings, wondering why there aren’t any rings popping out. Nicole says something about them being a by-product of energy conversion from Robotropolis’ Nuclear Fallout. When Sonic asks what that means, she says it takes time. I’m not a scientist, but that sounded more like she was just explaining what they are and where they came from rather than why it was taking so long.

Anyway, it’s a bit moot anyway because when they see Vector and Mighty soaring across the sky above them, Nicole shuts up and goes off to re-route some power to make the lake go faster. 

Which is good because Evil Ken swings by super fast and is rushing right for the poor fucker!

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A ring comes out and Sonic manages to grab it and sling it on the dude’s head. It’s a really good thing that Sonic is both fast and strong.

I can’t help but wonder how the construction of the ring happens under the surface. A part of me wants to imagine they’re just buried deep into the dirt and the real wait is just waiting to see which one manages to float up first.

I’d stick my head under the water to see it form in the lake. I just hope it doesn’t accidentally form around my neck. That might suck.

Once Sonic gets it on Ken’s head, Sonic confirms for me what I suspected at the back of my mind but didn’t wish to speak of due to how messed up the idea was.

Ken was always talking about this big failure he’s had and the fact that he clearly was blaming himself for something heavy. Taking that into account on top of his assurance that no other Freedom Fighter groups were around in his region and his weird behavior surrounding these powers before hand kind of spelled out how… really, insanely messed up the implications of what he had to have gone through were but I still kind of thought that maybe it might have been something different.

Nah. Sonic spells it out and it’s exactly what I feared.

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He’s making damn sure I know it’s not anything else too. 

I do love the little moment in the bottom panels between our two love birds too. It’s another villain pull-back when they’ve got the heroes on the ropes but it happens as a result of Snively being more accommodating of it this time because he’s in love. 

Ken proceeds to pour his heart out to them finally. The Freedom Fighters where he lives are “gone” and Regina released him because she thought it’d be funny. What a tremendously wonderful bitch.

Because people are different and they react to things differently, Ken tried to handle this situation a bit more in an immediate proactive way. He was in a state similar to how Knuckles was after the Enerjak situation but instead of staying back for a long while he acted immediately instead of giving his mind time to recover, which is probably just as dangerous if not more so.

Not really giving himself time to properly adjust to what had happened and going off and doing things on his own just kind of scrambled things up more and he’s realizing now, when it was almost too late, that he really shouldn’t have tried to go off on his own.

And I get why he felt he needed to do it alone. It feels a little obvious considering what happened. Coming to the Freedom Fighters here was a huge gamble considering what happened last time and what almost happened again. Though, ironically, the shame of the last incident was what led to him not telling the whole story which ironically led to this happening again which is why Antoine is so cross with him.

Antoine grabs him by the collar and screams in his face about how he’s messed up, while Ken is in the middle of reiterating how he’s messed up. I guess he just wanted him to doubly know just how much it was his fault.

Sally tells him to cool it but Ken isn’t angry or defensive. He says Antoine is right.

But the kids, having witnessed everything, interject and say some words.

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It’s a very sweet sentiment and thankfully it works. This was another case where I feel like him being yelled and screamed at would have only made the situation worse. It’s clear he knows he fucked up. He doesn’t need someone telling him that he did when he’s in the middle of saying that he did. I think this was a very appropriate time to offer some support and being around SO many people willing to offer it despite the screw-ups says a lot about everyone’s character in this scene.

Yes, even Antoine. Especially Antoine, given the circumstances.

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This is one of the few moments in the book when reading it, I started to think that maybe being a citizen of this place might not be that bad.

Not to be outdone by the surprising flash of maturity shown by those three guilt ridden kids, Antoine makes sure to quickly mend things with Ken, who’s only all too sorry and remorseful. 

Everyone heads off to go check on the injured back in Freedom HQ and Sonic gives Ken a reminder that he needs to fish his Atom Bat out of the lake. Sonic can’t do it because he no likey the water.

I’m… REALLY happy with the way all that shook out, honestly.

I did recall these kids ending this issue with a speech of some sort and rolling my eyes at it last I read this some years ago but now, with the context more clear-cut in my mind, I do find myself appreciating what happened a little more. It could have been done a bit better, for sure. The development of those kids clearly shuffling to the scene due to reflecting on the brazen way they threw rocks at Ken and then learning how badly they fucked up once they saw him try to save Bunnie and then heard his harrowing story was a little… rocky. 

However, I do think it works. I like how Ken owned up to his mistakes and was only showing remorse for what had happened, willing to accept any insult or punishment but was instead offered forgiveness.

It’s a very heart-warming thing to witness where as in any other series, this probably would have been seen as some sort of boon for endless flashy drama and tension. Heroes hating each other and holding grudges and making people on their own side feel even worse after they already expressed insane regret for their failings tends to be a dangerous road to walk down sometimes. 

A lot of people online and in the world today have such a harsh and negative reaction to the concept of forgiveness. It’s something I find to be a little bit of a shame. Obviously, no one is obligated to do so but there are some people out there who even get mad at others who’ve made the personal decision to do so, which is backwards to me. It’s so bonkers that doing something so healthy for the benefit of your mental well-being would be so looked down upon. Make whatever choice you wish but judging other people for choosing to do things their own way is a past time I wish would die out. Unless it’s something dangerous that personally affects you, I don’t see why people keep trying to butt in on what other people wish to do.

I’m saying this mostly because I recall a story of a family that chose to forgive someone who killed a loved one of theirs. The culprit went to prison of course but apparently, the family got ridiculed for their decision to forgive online and it’s really grotesque to think about. Making the healthy decision to move on and not linger in such strong negativity that could cripple the people left behind is such a strong, motivating thing to do.

I wish, wish, WISH with all my heart I had it in me to forgive and move on a lot more than I currently do but my mind is so fucky that it’s still teasing me with wrong doings that people have done to me that happened when I was a child. It’s ridiculous.

Seeing so many people in a scene like this willing to push their personal grievances down, step back and realize that they are among allies, and making the decision to push forward and focus on the future was insanely effective this time around. I was totally not expecting this. 

Especially not from Sonic. He’s been on his best behavior for a while now, I gotta say. The genuine try he made at trying to cheer Ken up with his normal, goofy self was endearing despite it being an obvious set-up for failure and the even more genuine concern on his face once he realized the gravity of what happened to the poor guy was even better.

Yeah, this is more like it. That’s what I want to see. 

Anyway, Snively takes time out of his day to taunt Eggman in his padded cell. He’s trying to tell Eggman just how great the party is without him but his mind is so far gone that he can’t understand him and is, on top of that, rambling literal nonsense.

As Snively walks away in a pouty huff at the fact that his gloating means nothing to a literal insane man, one of Eggman’s random ramblings unlocks his padded cell.

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Fucking oops.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #204: Friend in Deed, Part Two

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Jamal Peppers
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman

We begin where we left off, with Espio holding Knuckles at the edge of the island, ready to do the Joe Pesci knifing on this red Billy Batts. 

When Knuckles questions him on whether or not he’d really go through with stealing the Master Emerald, dropping the island into the ocean, and giving that insane bitch all this power, Espio just says he WOULD have to… right? Knuckles confirms that if he did, he’d do everything he could to stop him.

So, of course, Espio uses this to logic his way out of killing Knuckles by saying that means he’s got conflicting orders. It’s very “my orders were specifically to do THIS thing not this OTHER thing”. It works.

Knuckles is confused of course. He really wants to help and he needs to know where these orders are coming from. He says for the third time that the only chameleons he knows are from Rainbow Valley.

Espio says that there might be a way for him to help. He’d need to break the rule of the Bride of Four Houses.

Again, I almost let myself get confused here again despite literally looking this up on a wiki last time. I almost confused “Bride of Four Houses” with just the Bride of whatever Espio’s clan is but no. “Four Houses” means “All four of these clans” which would obviously mean the one who’s in complete control of all four of them, which would mean the Iron Queen, Regina.

Got it.

Although, I recall reading all this back in the day and it flying waaaay over my head there.

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Back then, despite this being a much more clear cut explanation, it was just another situation the same as back when Lightning Lynx was talking. All that talk about Brides being bosses wed to a fucking house and then the added confusion of Espio not still being able to do anything if the Bride of Four Houses was taken away because then he’d only serve the Shinobi Clan and the Bride fo Constant Vigil, a name that still at the time meant nothing to me and I had no context for…

It was all just a confusing word salad to me. Whether it was me being sure that the reason it was so confusing was because I was certain it was a hold over from an older story from the past 200 issues I hadn’t read (come to find out in this retrospective that it wasn’t. This is the introduction to all this stuff which still blows my mind) or the fact that I wasn’t finding the details about the enemy too important (big mistake considering how important it is for Journey to the East and most of that arc is a blur as a result) but my teenage brain just wasn’t having it.

Reading this now, I understand it a lot more despite the minor slip-up I make here and there that I quickly mend, but there was no way my easily diverted attention span of a brain was going to be able handle these words back then.

The sentence “former exile from the Raiju Clan; his bride of the Conquering Storm serves the Iron Queen in New Megaopolis” would have made my eyes cross reading it back in the day. I probably didn’t even register that he was talking about Lighting Lynx despite the fact that Knuckles literally just said Lightning’s name. 

I don’t even know if I remembered at the time that the name of Eggman’s city was New Megaopolis. I might have still been confusing it with the home of the Freedom Fighters since I was sure a city with a similar name existed at the time and I still wasn’t sure which name belonged to what or where or why.

It’s kind of hard to be too hard on myself for it since there was just SO much being thrown at me back in the day. It’s important to remember that this stuff with the Brides and the Iron Dominion wasn’t the only new stuff I was trying to get used to. The mere presence of some of these characters was hard to grasp. This was still during a time where I was confused why Knuckles had a pink Knuckles for a girlfriend and why part of her was robotic. 

Espio runs away, realizing that he’s said too much.

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Knuckles wishes him good luck. He’s not been left with much but he at the very least does know that in order to fix this, he needs to find a way to break apart the clans from the Iron Dominion.

I’ll admit to still not being a fan of where I remember Espio’s story going here nor do I still feel a ton between Knuckles and Espio themselves but this story was certainly a necessary one in the grand scheme of things. It was also extremely short and really, really well drawn and colored to boot. A win if there ever was one.

Yeah, this string of books has been excellent. It’s honestly kind of surprising how well this arc is starting. I was kind of expecting the confusion of the Brides thing to hold me back a bit but because it’s been mostly cleared up I’m able to appreciate the story’s flow a lot more than I feel I did back in the day. This has all been a really well done build up of our new villains and the tremendous power they command and the emotional scenes on display here are really well done. It’s amazing that we’re getting a string of consistent scenes where characters are feeling genuinely heroic and loving. I was truly expecting to roll my eyes at the little speech at the end when it came around but the lead up to why it happened I had completely let pass me by the last time I was on this journey. With it being such a heart-warming thing seeing our heroes offering support and forgiveness to someone in desperate need of it, how could I not love it?

Yeah, it’s one thing to see heroes fight and stuff. That’s all cool but at the end of the day, what I truly need to see from my heroes are heroics. I need to see them act like people you can rely on and look up to and see them provide examples of how I can be a better person and… yeah, I’m getting all mushy. 

Look, I really liked that scene with Ken alright? It made me all warm and fuzzy. Okay? 

 

Sonic Universe - Issue #9: Knuckles: The Return - Part 1 of 4: Echoes of the Past, Part One

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One has to wonder if there even is a point to sub-titles for each issue here if the story is already called “Knuckles: The Return” and each part is called “Echoes of the Past, Part One” and “Echoes of the Past, Part Two” and so on. Seems a bit unnecessary. At least for the Shadow Saga, each issue had a different subtitle and it was more appropriate that way because they were each different stories. This is a good looking, striking cover though. Some would say it’s way too simple but I think this is one of those instances where the simplicity works really well. Knuckles is returning so hard and fast his fist is coming right at ya, and the flash of white all around him just gives it that hard and fast, flashy feel. It’s a very powerful simple image.

As for this arc in general, my opinion going into it is very muted. I thought I remembered little about the M30YL story but that story was so weird that I was inevitably going to remember some tidbits from it. This story, however, I remember far less. I remember how the villain was defeated and that the platypus guy has a purple Eggman outfit and I guess is like an undercover agent? That’s it.

I don’t remember what this one was about because I distinctly remember not being able to follow it. There are a couple of key reasons for that. One, I was still new to the comic obviously. I had no idea who any of the people they were interacting with were and I definitely wasn’t aware of that rubber band ball of nonsense that was Knuckles’ tenure on the book. Two, I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the characters within the story aside from Knuckles so my attention span probably suffered. This was back when I had that tremendous hate-on for Mighty and was just discovering how much I hated Julie-Su so it wasn’t looking too good for me in that department.

So many things have changed in the 10+ years since then that re-reading this is undoubtedly going to feel like I’m reading it for the very first time.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Jim Amash
Colors: Jason Jensen
Letters: Teresa Davidson
Assistant editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor & Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

The issue opens on a curious note. It’s the Dingo Oasis Camp in Sandopolis. Knuckles, Mighty, and Julie-Su exit from a warp ring and see General Stryker. Knuckles looks really annoyed, asking what he wants, which surprises me seeing as how the last time he saw him he was all apologetic to the guy about the whole killing his son and destroying the city thing. 

Truthfully, despite this opening page looking familiar, I didn’t expect to ever see the dingos again but I guess when you’ve got characters and a history to go with them, use them.

In Ian’s case, it would seem he intends on using them for the better.

Stryker called them in because Knuckles “lied to him”. He gets Catweazle to give him the files that he found detailing Project Enerjak and says that reading through them was enlightening because it proves that everything WASN’T Knuckles’ fault. He says this with a smile on his face too.

Knuckles still tries to take responsibility for it and Stryker respects that but still decides to look through the lens of Knuckles’ actual character and insists that they’re even.

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BITCH, YOU THOUGHT--!

Ah dammit. I was actually totally on board with him being more open to being friendly with Knuckles or at least being someone he could hold mutual respect for.

It’s weird. The whole dingos and echidnas thing was really weird and it made no sense. The fact that there were Nazi allegories on both sides of their conflict made things so insanely confusing. In the end, I couldn’t help but find the dingos more sympathetic due to how the haughty, pompous echidnas kept screwing things over with their inactivity and holier than thou beliefs.

Sometimes I feel as though I underestimate the amount of catharsis I got from seeing them get taken down several hundred pegs. If I could dance on the grave of the Brotherhood any harder, I would.

However, this conflict was something I was ready to see be done and dusted. I was very much hoping to see a nice little bow get put on this thing with the new, actually respectful and kind guardian Knuckles coming to an understanding with Stryker so this pointless feud could have somewhat of a resolution that spelled hope for the future but… I guess he’s still vindictive.

I didn’t get a sense of that at all the last time they talked and it wasn’t coming across at all until that very last panel either so color me surprised I guess but I’m really not a fan of this.

We cut to a new scene where Vector is resting against the Master Emerald. 

It’s an insanely weird visual to me and I guess I need to come to grips with the fact that everything about this version of the Chaotix is just going to remain weird for the remainder of my days. I’ll try to look past it but it became instantly harder when I saw Ray was the one hanging with him here. 

Looking over this scene, witnessing Ray talking with Vector, and even seeing the caption of “Chaotix Junior Member” with him… like I can’t be blamed for finding it weird that this isn’t Charmy right? I know why it’s not Charmy. He’s still in limbo because Ian isn’t comfortable using him after that horrendous mistake he made and also, Mighty is in this story so he needs to be here to act as his other half or something. I get that but… the similarities make it stand out SO much. 

A chatty, over-excited child, who can FLY, and has a smattering of yellow on him…?

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It doesn’t even feel like it’s a reaction I’m having just because I’m a Charmy fan. It’s distracting how much this feels like it should be him instead.

Look, he’s even going on about being a DETECTIVE here. What?

When? How? Why? 

Are they detectives now? WHEN did THIS happen? Is it being incorporated now? It really does just add another tidbit to the pile of similarities to Charmy on top of being a bit out of nowhere.

I like that Vector’s entire palm can wrap around Ray’s entire face. One squeeze and I’d imagine his head would turn to lemonade.

The take away from this scene is obviously the parts about Vector hating the fact that he’s from Downunda. Angel Island used to connect to that part of the planet. Back when I initially read this, I wasn’t a fan of Vector being from a place like this simply because my headcanon saw him as more of a back alley metropolitan guy. I figured he’d be someone from the streets of the big city and it conflicted with the image I had of him… but then again, this Vector is already wildly different from the one I’m used to.

On top of that, now that I’ve actually read the past issues, Vector being from Downunda makes the most sense. Unlike the thing with the Brides of Four Houses, Downunda was something that’s been long since established in the book. I didn’t know it upon first reading this arc but I do have that context now given his history of just BEING on Angel Island for so long.

So, nowadays, I may have my own headcanon but as far as THIS canon is concerned, things lining up matters more and I’m forever impressed by Ian’s ability to keep all this stuff straight.

Another thing I need to talk about is that RAY’S STUTTER IS MAGICALLY BACK YET AGAIN!

It’s like… I don’t get it.

Like… just… choose…! Just CHOOSE!

Either he has the stutter or he doesn’t! Come on! I actually rather like the idea of him having the stutter. It’s one of the few things about him that’s separating him from Charmy in the context of this book but it can’t be this inconsistent man!

Thankfully, I do recall Ray finding more of an identity down the line in bits and pieces as his relationship with Mighty is put more at the forefront. It’s already there, of course, but it’s so rarely touched upon that as of right now he gets a little lost in the fold.

For me, I honestly didn’t fully feel it click that the two of them were a thing together until I saw Mania Adventures. This was long after I read the Archie Comics and saw how the two of them going off on their own together ended with the Matilda thing too. It’s interesting it took that long for me to see their relationship and partnership as genuine but that’s how it shook out I suppose. 

It didn’t help that this jealousy grudge I had against Mighty made it impossible to like him or want to see him at the time. I’m happy that I’ve mostly gotten over that because, like with Blaze, being upset at a character because a character is more popular than your favorite characters isn’t fair. Though, with Mighty it was a lot harder to get over because I was so frustrated that I was confused as to why so many liked him and wanted him back when the only games I was aware he was in at the time were SegaSonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles Chaotix. The popularity linked with him was so insane and unfathomable to me. I just didn’t get it. Every time I asked why everyone kept saying he needed to come back, no one ever gave me a good answer either. 

I understood it probably couldn’t have just been a cool design and cool gameplay thing but I felt like that wasn’t satisfactory enough to be that extremely hyped up at the time. Especially since there were a lot of characters that I felt fit the bill more.

Reading through these comics unfortunately wouldn’t have made me understand back then either since all of the Chaotix have really sucked up to this point. 

Ian’s finally getting to work on providing them with a little more meat at around this point in time, thankfully, though I don’t recall liking where any of their developments went so in the end it probably didn’t even matter.

But look at me, talking so much about the past. Here in the present, I definitely have a lot more tolerance for Mighty and Ray as an item now. I find it more endearing, unsurprisingly, now that they’re like a secondary Sonic and Tails that’s separate from what I’m personally used to calling the Chaotix.

Here in this book though, they’re lumped in with a whole host of other guys I don't normally see them compatible with so I'm trying my best to navigate through scenes I find weird like this.

Vector muses a bit about his past. Talks about being hatched there (which, I know would have to be the case since he’s a crocodile but it’s still weird to think about) and how he went about with a bunch of orphans. He built a gyrocopter and flew to Angel Island…

The asterisk says we saw it in Issue #120 so I’ll take the book’s word for it but man is the thought of Vector doing something like that is strange. Not quite Thanos-Copter levels of strange but it’s still weird.

I've said the word "weird" three times in the span of three sentences.

Anyway, Ray get’s taken by a bunch of flying dino-mutts.

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Vector saves him and then more show up. There’s a whole flock so now they’re in danger. Uh-oh.

As I read this, my memory of what’s happening in this scene has returned in tiny bits and pieces. Feels rather natural that it would happen that way but it’s only happening AS I read it so I still have no idea what comes next… aside from how this resolves. I remember the image of fake “Super Ray” quite vividly.

In the next scene, however, upon reading it’s pages, I STILL have no recollection of EVER reading them despite the absolute FACT that I totally have.

Knuckles, Julie-Su, and Mighty ride with what looks like the shady dog guy from DuckTales the Movie on a sandworm to Finitevus’ hideout, which Stryker so “generously” pointed them in the direction of. 

Knuckles observes the ruins and realizes they’re very old, to which Julie-Su points out that ancient ruins tend to be. However, he says that they aren’t Echidna made and goes to investigate some more.

Apparently, Knuckles hasn’t been to the Sandopolis part of his island because it scared him as a kid. Interesting detail.

Mighty stays behind to have a, what he THINKS, is going to be a friendly chat with Harry.

Yup. It’s our boy Harry!

We don’t see what’s under the hood but Mighty can tell it’s him and he’s expecting to catch up all nice and clean with his old buddy… but uh… Harry’s changed.

With his explanation of how his life has played out up to this point comes some nice vindication. 

I kept saying that this book was doing Harry a massive disservice and people on both sides of this conflict were treating him like shit. It never got acknowledged but because Ian is a boss, it’s the first thing he does when he puts Harry in the story again.

Dude tells us straight up that he didn’t like being in the army but wasn’t given much choice. He loved that gig he had as a cabbie but kept getting pushed around and wrapped up in people’s messes.

Then he went and decided to be a little more helpful than that and was promptly left behind and punished for it.

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He’s got bandaged hands and judging from the scar peeking out from under his hood, his face might not be doing so hot either.

Looking at this, it’s really sad. 

I mean, think about it. If you got left behind by the heroes and made to suffer Kage’s abuse right after you were done helping to keep fucking LOCKE safe, wouldn’t that just be the absolute fucking worst? UGH!

Mighty’s smile is gone. After hearing that story, he realizes this is no longer a smiley, happy catching up with an old friend and is in desperate apology mode… although, he follows the apology with an immediate excuse.

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It’s a very bittersweet scene and I wish Harry nothing but the best, even if the man he allies with now is supposedly not ready to be on the up and up with Knuckles. As for Mighty, the pouty sad face is very assuring of his sincerity in the situation. I do also feel for the guy, especially since I don’t put any of the blame on him. I honestly don’t even remember Mighty being in that story.

The Chaotix have done so little that you could tell me they were in a ton of the old stories I didn't remember them being in and I’d have believed you.

Back with Knuckles and Julie-Su, they’re doing what they do best… being noticeably incompatible with one another.

Knuckles is observing the lay of the land, trying to piece together what these ruins are. They’re too advanced and unfamiliar with what he knows of the history of his people. Julie-Su keeps trying to downplay his concern by tossing out possibilities that he quickly shoots down and it just spurs her on to be more dismissive of his concerns.

Knuckles is insistent that this is fucking weird, and I know from conventional story-telling troupes that he’s correct, so Julie-Su insistence that they just ignore it and more on is a bit more annoying as a result. That said, there’s certainly no reason to stop their advancement as Knuckles ponders this. That’s true too.

So, when Mighty walks by all saddened by the altercation he just had and suggests they hurry along, they both take him up on that offer.

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I think back in the day, I was probably being a vindictive little twit about this scene and relishing in the fact that Mighty was sad. Nowadays, I’m just going “Aww. Poor guy. Wish I could give him a hug.”

I’m happy to report that I’ve turned into a big softie of soft-serve ice-cream with age.

The little image of Knuckles pointing to the ruins and being all, “This ain’t over” was cute too.

I’m only now just realizing that the Sandopolis music has been playing in my head on loop this whole time. 

They reach a door and it seems they need to input something to get in… but nah. Mighty punches the door down with a nice little “knock-knock” as a finishing line. 

There was some back and forth between Knuckles and Julie-Su about whether or not this place was an old Albion stronghold but once inside, Knuckles confirms that it IS an old Albion Stronghold. He starts to wonder why they would have a research fortress built in the middle of a primitive Downunda settlement… but Julie-Su is like “GUYS! FINITEVUS! FOCUS!”

She REALLY doesn’t want Knuckles to be using his brain nor for him to ask all these good questions. Learning about the environment that you’re walking in, especially if it’s enemy territory, apparently isn’t of any use to her. Taking into consideration Finitevus’ ties to echidna society and its history, you’d think questioning this stuff would be even more relevant but no. She’s insanely impatient and apparently doesn’t even want them talking about this while they’re already in the middle of going after the guy.

I really don’t get it. It’s not even like they’re stopping to question things this time. They’re still going after the dude. I’d almost start to wonder if she was desperately trying to keep them from figuring something out if I didn’t know any better.

Then Mighty, in a nonchalant manner of speaking, pushes one of Knuckles' buttons by sheer accident.

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OH MY GOD! POOR MIGHTY!

This is so strange! My reaction to him now is a literal 180 from the last time I read this twelve years ago. I was so on board for seeing the characters snap at him back then. Here, seeing him all sad and twiddling his fingers is just so endearing. He’s being so cute. He needs a big old bearhug. Poor guy!

Fuck the old me. Mighty’s great.

Also, it’s funny seeing Julie-Su call Knuckles a hot-head here. I mean, he is but so are you, girl. That could have easily been you in another circumstance.

Anyway, back with Vector and Ray, they’re getting beaten down by these mechanical things and let it slip that they desire more of their buds.

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Charmy and Saffron aren’t showing up Vector. They act purely under the “Once in a Blue Moon” clause, you see. Very tight lipped stuff. You wouldn’t understand.

It’s also very weird hearing Vector refer to Espio as a traitor and saying that he doesn’t need him. I can’t help but view it as something said in a marital spat or something. 

Back with Knuckles, he’s stomping ahead, really pissed now.

Yes, considering just HOW MUCH the dude was dicked around by people in his own damn family about his past and how answers were kept from him all his life (for literally NO good reason I must add), it’s understandable that even now it’s a hot button issue with him.

Of course, now that he’s upset, he’s not being cautious and a trap door opens up that all three of them fall into because all three of them stopped being cautious as a result.

That’s when we get them landing in the pit that’ll be the basis of the cover for the next issue.

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“Knuckles X Answers” is my favorite hopeless OTP.

It’ll never happen, just like “Burr X The Room Where It Happens”.

At the start of the issue, I was a tad worried. I liked the scene where Stryker was confiding in Knuckles about the Enerjak thing not being his fault so seeing that last panel where he was actually “BUT I’M SECRETLY SCHEMING” just made me let out a deep sigh. I was really hoping Ian was planning on moving past the dumb Dingo and Echidna conflict and was going to utilize them for something a little less annoying. Something that better emphasizes how much time has passed and how things have changed. Although, it does provide an interesting POTENTIAL emotional conflict concerning feelings regarding Harry but without seeing it, I can only speculate.

Things didn’t get much better with the Vector and Ray scene just feeling extremely weird with this huge mishmash of things I either didn’t like or was distracted by coming together all at once. The fact that Ray right now is distractingly just Charmy in everything but name and design is weird. The random mention of being a detective came right the fuck out of nowhere. The Downunda stuff is a bit of a thing I’m not too jazzed about. Also, of course, the stuttering returning yet again remains a bit odd.

All that said, after that point, the issue really picked up. I enjoyed all the scenes that took place afterward. Julie-Su was annoying but because she’s so obviously wrong in her dismissal of Knuckles’ concerns, it feels more tolerable. Then, of course, poor Mighty was so adorable and endearing here. Never felt so protective of the guy. It’s truly interesting what 12 years can do to your perception of a character or story.

Shaky start but definitely not a bad one.

 

Sonic Universe - Issue #10: Knuckles: The Return - Part 2 of 4: Echoes of the Past, Part Two

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This cover is certainly the weakest of the set for me. It’s drawn and colored really well but for some reason what it’s depicting feels a little generic. The spiked walls closing in on you thing will always be scary to me but I guess here, for whatever reason, it’s not clicking as something all that cover worthy. Oh well. It’s certainly not a bad cover by any means. My comments here are purely of the subjective variety.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Jim Amash
Colors: Jason Jensen
Letters: Teresa Davidson
Assistant editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor and Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

We start off where we left off last time and with what’s depicted on the cover. The three of them are trapped with the spiked walls closing in and lasers above their heads. They don’t have enough time to break the walls down so Julie-Su suggests that she climb out and squeeze through the lasers. She ends that suggestion on a crack about guarding the Master Emerald being a possible easier thing to do but on cue we cut to Ray and Vector fighting off a bajillion of these flying things to instantly denounce that notion. 

Vector’s caption saying “Chaotix De Facto Leader” upset me back in the day. Seeing it here again reminded me of that. One day it won’t matter anymore, of course, but man when it comes to things I like and prefer every little thing that reminds me that things are different just sets me off.

Vector and Ray are not able to handle this situation though. Somehow more keep coming despite how many they destroy. Ray suggests they run but they can’t because the Master Emerald would get taken and that would cause the island to demolish the continent below and that’s a big no-no.

Back with Knuckles’ group, turns out the trap they’re caught in isn’t very steep at all. Julie-Su manages to sit atop Knuckles’ back as he climbs her out of there. Her tail get burnt a bit but she manages to make it to the computer.

Then she does the tried and true Julie-Su thing of getting angry and blowing it up when it doesn’t work.

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Aww man, doesn’t it take you back to those days where she was firing her guns at a picture of Knuckles on the wall because he ran off to see his dad that one time? 

What’s even funnier about this is when Knuckles and Mighty exit the pit, completely fine because blowing up the computer just turned everything off luckily, Julie-Su says she took a page out of KNUCKLES’ book to do that.

It’s a little crazy how unaware of her own temper she’s continuing to be. Like, this isn’t just a Knuckles thing. The temper is like one of the few things you two have in common so it’s kind of funny seeing her continuously push it as just a Knuckles thing.

Also, it was a little humbling seeing her actually start to cry at the prospect of possibly failing this endeavor. A surprisingly humanizing moment for her, all things considered. I can respect it.

They get inside the lab, which has apparently been ransacked by Stryker's men. Julie-Su goes to access the computer while Mighty spots a creepy floating warp ring sitting beside an altar with torches beside it.

Hmm. That’s a very strange thing to come across in a laboratory.

Meanwhile, Ray does this.

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The stuttering has never been so prominent before. It’s actually a little hard to read here. Still, what gets me about this scene is how he’s playing it up as something he didn’t just come up with on the fly or remember was a possibility. If he truly did have this in mind the whole time, after all, why wait so long to do it? Nah. He’s playing it up for the crowd, obviously.

So the weird golden dog bird dino things fly off. I think they’re supposed to be metal dingos maybe? I seriously can’t tell.

Whatever. They get scared and fly off.

Vector asks when it happened that Ray could go super and he says he can’t. Surely Vector knew that right?

Vector says he did… but…

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Look at that, “I’m so awesome” swagger he’s got now. All of a sudden, that jacket looks a lot cooler on you. Although, it’s interesting how his design looks like a de-evolution of Tails with each new drawing of him I see.

Yeah, at this point, it seems that they’re still trying to get Ray down a bit in both design and personality. There’s a lot about him that feels a bit too redundant of a few other characters right now and it remains a little distracting. 

Back with Knuckles’ group, Big Red decides to step through the warp ring and they manage to step out… back into the ruins.

At first, they think they’re back where they started which prompts Knuckles to shout for Finitevus to come out but then Julie-Su interrupts with a clarification. 

They’re not actually on Angel Island.

They look up and see the island floating above them which means that some of the ruins being down on the ground here means whatever civilization this was started before Angel Island was a thing. 

Very interesting. No doubt this entire mystery angle passed me by back in the day as I don’t even remember it being a thing but reading it now, it’s very intriguing.

Finitevus steps out now, nonchalantly addressing them now that they’ve called for him.

They respond by instantly trying to demolish the guy, shouting about all the horrible things he’s done. Finitevus can’t help but defend himself verbally.

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Although, he does add on that he doesn’t have to answer to them at the end here. I guess his pride wouldn’t allow him to be seen as the villain for trying to right the wrongs of echidna society in his own way. 

I mean, who would be ungrateful for the gift of being made a God?

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OH JESUS! I guess Knuckles would.

Finitevus says hi to Knuckles with a smile on his face and as if on cue, a loud PCHUNK sound effect goes off nearby, catching his attention.

At first I thought it might have been the sound of something rumbling but PCHUNK is a weird sound for a shaking ground to make so probably not.

Back on the island, Vector asks Ray for his spare warp ring seeing as how what just happened seemed a bit too weird. Those robots reminded him of the ones Croc-Bot used to use and now they just so happen to be hovering over Downunda. He can’t just see it as a coincidence.

Then the PCHUNKS reach their ears too and what follows is the shaking SHKOOM sound effect I was waiting for.

Ray falls off the island in a scene that kind of makes it look like he banged his head on the way down.

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Ouch, if that’s true.

He can fly so he stops his fall and manages to be alright. 

However, we see now that the PCHUNKS were coming about as a result of sharp spear chains flinging up from the ground and stabbing themselves into Angel Island.

Finitevus, still grinning, asks if Knuckles still wants to punch his head off or work with him to SAVE his island!

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What’s this?! What an interesting development.

I remember so little of this that it’s catching me quite off guard. Why, it almost feels like a mystery story for certain detectives to solve. According to Ray, those exist amongst the Chaotix now… suddenly. 

I guess it’s time we teamed up with Finitevus to save Angel Island from being Little Planet-ed.

This issue had less in it that bothered me but there is a part of me that slightly enjoyed the first issue more despite that. It’s most likely because the scenes that I liked in the first issue I just thought were really, really good whereas this one was a simple continuation of what happened last time that didn’t do anything spectacularly bad but also nothing super great either. That said, the one thing I do find myself liking a lot is the build up surrounding this mystery. I truly have no clue what’s going on or what the intrigue behind these old ruins is or what’s causing these chains to show up or why Finitevus is offering to help Knuckles save the island… and from what exactly? Very good use of keeping things close to the chest without making it frustrating to read through. 

So far, this arc is very good. Judging by these two issues alone, it may already be above the first two SU arcs I’ve read at the moment, if only because I’ve already gotten so much more out of it. Shadow’s self-contained stories were fine but they all hovered around just being okay to whatever. M30YL later was… M30YL. 

This is more my speed at the moment. We’ve been blessed with a lot of good comics in a row. Keep it up please.

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4 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

The issue opens on Sally saying the expected line of “You gotta fight it” to Ken and Ken’s response is that he’s the divine weapon of the Iron Dominion

And that he is glorious in what I think is the first time Ian has had a character refer to themselves as such. It's a small thing but I kinda like how Ian has characters brag about how glorious they are like they're Wrestling heels. (Just noticed you mentioned him calling himself glorious after typing this. Again I write these as I'm reading)

 

9 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

As of right now, we stop this part of the scene with Vector and Mighty trying to hold him down and Ken about to blow them away with a tremendous “Tumultuous Thunderclap of the Enraged”, which sounds like something that would kill you, shock you back to life, and kill you again in the span of 3 seconds.

It also sounds almost DBZish...which kinda works when you think about it.

 

12 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

I can’t help but wonder how the construction of the ring happens under the surface

Well it's probably not true in the Archie continuity but an episode of SatAM shows they're produced by a machine with some unexplained "power rock" inside of it. I guess Nicole makes them out of Nanites here though?

 

17 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

A lot of people online and in the world today have such a harsh and negative reaction to the concept of forgiveness. It’s something I find to be a little bit of a shame

...I have strong opinions on forgiveness and frankly I believe unless someone proves they're truly apologetic for the things they've done they don't just automatically deserve forgiveness. Maybe that's callus or cold but I don't care if someone continues being a horrible piece of shit and never shows any sign of even wanting to change then I'm not "going to be the bigger person" and forgive them just because they're an asshole. 

 

26 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Sonic Universe - Issue #9: Knuckles: The Return - Part 1 of 4: Echoes of the Past, Part One

Huh...interesting placing this here. Like there's nothing wrong with it it's just I like to put this arc between #206 and 207 myself because 205 picks up directly from the end of 204 and 206 feels like a better cut off point. Then again Ian posted an order that puts this arc here too so what do I know? 

 

33 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Are they detectives now? WHEN did THIS happen? Is it being incorporated now? It really does just add another tidbit to the pile of similarities to Charmy on top of being a bit out of nowhere.

I mean...I guess technically they acted like detectives for a hot second before tripping balls on LSD that one time.

 

38 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

 

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And...that's a series wrap on Harry. 

 

40 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

so Julie-Su insistence that they just ignore it and more on is a bit more annoying as a result

Dude she's just focused on catching the mad scientist whose kind if a bigger concern right now.

 

42 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

There was some back and forth between Knuckles and Julie-Su about whether or not this place was an old Albion stronghold but once inside, Knuckles confirms that it IS an old Albion Stronghold

This is something I would only notice because I have no life and have reread these comics a million times but the inside of the pyramid has the same nonsense random blocks that the pyramid from "Fire Drill" in the Sonic and Knuckles special. It was one of the several stories where Knuckles walks around and talks to himself. 

 

46 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

I can’t help but view it as something said in a marital spat or something. 

I mean game canon they are raising a child together. 

 

49 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Vector’s caption saying “Chaotix De Facto Leader” upset me back in the day. Seeing it here again reminded me of that. One day it won’t matter anymore, of course, but man when it comes to things I like and prefer every little thing that reminds me that things are different just sets me off.

I don't know maybe it's because I'm such a superhero guy but seeing alternate depictions of characters has never really bothered me that much. Just remember it's not the same universe as the games and it's not so bad.

 

53 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Meanwhile, Ray does this.

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Classic. Also love how he tells Vector he can't go Super. Just wait 11 years little guy.

 

54 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

So the weird golden dog bird dino things fly off. I think they’re supposed to be metal dingos maybe? I seriously can’t tell.

They're Wing Dingoes from the Tails Miniseries. I...don't blame you for not remembering them. They were pretty much just the Putty Patrol for Crocbot.

 

56 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

 

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I love how Finitevus might not be a fighter but he's a master of the Warp Rings so he's fully capable of wrecking people's shit anyway. 

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Dr. Detective Mike
2 hours ago, SBR2 said:

...I have strong opinions on forgiveness and frankly I believe unless someone proves they're truly apologetic for the things they've done they don't just automatically deserve forgiveness. Maybe that's callus or cold but I don't care if someone continues being a horrible piece of shit and never shows any sign of even wanting to change then I'm not "going to be the bigger person" and forgive them just because they're an asshole. 

That's a bit of a different thing from what I was talking about entirely. Obviously there's personal stuff to consider when it comes to the subject matter but my position was a little bit focusing on the reaction I see to the mere concept itself and the reluctance to allow it to give you peace of mind if it's something you truly want to do. If you don't want to, that's fine. That's part of the point I was making.

2 hours ago, SBR2 said:

Dude she's just focused on catching the mad scientist whose kind if a bigger concern right now.

Dude, I already explained why that doesn't fly with me. She had a minor point when Knuckles literally stopped to say this stuff but when he continued on the mission properly while commentating about the surroundings this time she was officially complaining for no reason. 

2 hours ago, SBR2 said:

Just remember it's not the same universe as the games and it's not so bad.

God, I wish it were that easy. Although, it's true that it's easier when it comes to some things over others. Like Sonic Boom is a lot easier to do that with because it's SO different it almost doesn't register as the same series.

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Paul-Agnew

Dr. Detective Mike, I wanted to drop by and congratulate you for reaching issue 200 in your weekly reviews, and let you know that you’re doing a great job. Fleeting as time is these days, I try to peruse the topic for a few minutes each week and see how you're progressing, particularly during the book's middle years. It’s truly cathartic watching someone revisit or entirely discover storylines for the first time that I grew up on and at one point knew back to front ('my' era of Sonic was when Bollers and Penders were at their peak, and was an avid poster on the latter’s original message board – no surprise there. :P ). Long may you continue.

For all the great times and inspirations the series provided, it's hard to maintain happy memories knowing full well where the stories and characters ultimately ended up, and for the longest time, couldn't bring myself to look at the boxes of back issues I accumulated. Still can't in some cases. These days I avoid discussing the franchise beyond a one-off 15th anniversary retrospective on one former head writer, the occasional off-colour comment speculating the characters’ mating habits, and burning back issues. Nor do I follow any Sonic-related blogs or sites beyond a cursory glance at the official social media accounts, mainly from lack of time and interest.

But old habits die hard, and reading your reviews had me evaluate and re-evaluate my stance on the Blue Blur's tri-coloured triumphs. There had been times when I wanted to comment about a particular storyline or character, but to be honest, several sentences on how I remember purchasing which issue at which store, the appearance of "Tikal" in Shadow's dungeon, or how “Say You Will” really was the writer’s last full story, are hardly going to set the conversation world on fire. At least until your review for issue 125, when you openly wondered how Sonic/Sally fans reacted at the time. As someone who was both an active reader and Sonic/Sally supporter at the time, it got me thinking just how far the Archie Sonic fandom has progressed over the decades. Or hasn't.

Which ultimately led to today. Rather than try my luck with another page-breaking post, I wish to comment on various issues from 43 up to 105, so essentially the first half of what I originally wrote. There are admittedly a few personal thoughts and memories along the way, but wanted to focus on what the collective online fandom was like at the time, along with some mind-numbing behind-the-scenes trivia. Most if not everything here has probably been discussed extensively elsewhere on other fan blogs (general rule of thumb being if it’s not listed on the Wiki, then it’s fair game), but hopefully you or someone else finds something of interest among the grit, kicking off with a thought that’s been on my mind for far too long. In response to at least one former freelancer’s comments about the series being a big, global mega-hit, I’d like to present...

=The Annotated History of Archie Sonic in Australia=

Spoiler

For decades, comic books were a favourite pastime for many Australian children. Readily available across the land, be it supermarkets or libraries, bookstores or specialty retailers. But when comic book shops were out of reach, it truly was hard to beat the local newsagent. For those unfamiliar, imagine a newsstand that takes up an entire store, specialising in magazines, newspapers, lottery tickets, office supplies, Birthday/greeting cards, and tobacco. They remain a cornerstone for most urban settings across the country, in spite of the rise in digital publications.

When Sonic launched locally in March 1992, it broke pre-order records, leaving suppliers scrambling to source more copies to a point where SEGA were shipping 20,000 a week. The sequel's arrival six months later contributed to the Great Video Game Explosion of Christmas 1992. With such a built-in audience, it was only natural that former mammoth magazine moguls Gordon & Gotch would strike at the opportunity of selling an official comic book. As the new year rolled around, that's exactly what they did.

Purchasing their stock directly from Archie and reaching retailers on average 2 months after their initial publication dates, Sonic would take pride and place among the burgeoning comic book shelves, beginning at a modestly priced $2.25. With stiff competition from the menagerie of titles by Dark Horse, DC, Image, Malibu and Marvel, Sonic continued to achieve strong sales, leading to the specials and miniseries reaching these shores. Knuckles and the Super Specials later showed up, and by 1997, a standard copy would set back readers $3.75.

The new millennium brought with it more than a fair share of dramas, with the comic book market hit particularly hard. Titles were being cancelled, and those surviving dropped by the distributor. What had once been a lavish shelving selection was slowly reducing to a trickle, and in response came the resurgence of children's magazines. Produced locally with glossy covers, free posters and toys, roughly A5 in size with double the page count for perfect backpack storage and sold on the cheap, 'K-Zone' blazed a trail across the market previously held solely by 'Disney Adventures'. Comic books were old news and seen as floppy, fragile and overpriced by comparison, not helped by the 10% price increase on all goods and services come July 2000.

Somehow, Sonic persevered. Even with each issue sporting a fluctuating price of anywhere between $4.75 and $5.40, the Blue Blur continued to stand alongside Batman and Spider-Man well into the 2000's. 'Sonic X' soon joined the party with issue 5 (what happened to the first 4? Licensed out by Archie, chopped into segments and printed over in 'K-Zone'. Or was it 'Krash'? Or 'Mania'? Or 'D*Mag'? Eh, every publisher wanted a slice by that point), and after some trepidation, 'Sonic Universe' launched its first issue on 24th April 2009. Having long resolved its pricing dramas, Sonic had settled on a reasonable $5.50 per copy. The future was bright, and nothing was going to stop him seizing the next decade.

...Until it did. One month after a price hike to $6.50, all Sonic comics were cancelled, the last being issue 213 and Universe 16, both released on 6th August 2010. When I asked the distributor at the time why such an abrupt ending, they responded with a curt "these titles are no longer in production". So much for that. Wilkinson Publishing attempted to fill the void by reprinting several IDW Transformers trade paperbacks and miniseries, but to little fanfare. The times were changing once again. Sonic's cancellation was a sign of things to come, and the shelving was about to be reduced to an end cap.

From out of nowhere, Sonic Universe issue 32 arrived at newsagents on 4th November 2011, with issue 229 joining on the 25th. There was much rejoycing, or at least for anyone who hadn't already switched over to the Archie App, a comic book shop, or even the fleeting international subscription service. To Gordon & Gotch's credit, they held the line at $6.50 and went hard on this Hedgehog resurgence, offering both titles, the Super Special Magazines and Digests. They had to, really. Marvel ceased selling all their comics to Australia in January 2012.

By the time Archie Sonic underwent its Super Genesis Reboot in 2013, the local comic book market was teetering over a precipice. Both relaunches for Universe and the Ongoing survived (30th September and 24th October respectively), alongside 10 Archie titles (half of which were Digests), 9 DC titles, 6 Dark Horse titles, 4 Simpsons titles and MAD Magazine, the latter two produced locally. Even with a depleting market, it looked as though Sonic would defy the odds and run forever. But alas, the following year proved it was not meant to be.

In a move perfectly mirroring 2010's cancellation, right down to issue formats and recent price hikes, Sonic ended once again. The US dollar increase to cover their new glossy paper sent local prices up to $8.50 per issue. While not the most expensive book left on the market (hello $13 'Brave and the Bold'), it reached a point where Sonic simply couldn't compete with other children's material. 'K-Zone' and its ilk still offered more quantity for less money, and an influx of larger British-based Children’s magazines slowly killed whatever stragglers remained. Thus came the end of an era, with the series now up, over and gone at Sonic Universe issue 70 on 4th December 2014, and Sonic the Hedgehog issue 266 on 5th January 2015.

But in true Hedgehog spirit, even that wasn't enough. Over the next two years, Sonic Super Digests made incredibly sporadic appearances alongside the remaining Archie Digests at retail, the last of which being issue 17 on 20th October 2016 with a cover price of $13.99, mere months before Archie pulled the plug altogether. As of 2021, the local comic book market is virtually nonexistent. Dark Horse, DC, Simpsons, all gone. Of course any and all titles or reprints are still readily available from comic book shops, but the days of walking over to newsagents for a monthly fix are long gone. All that remain are MAD Magazine, 2000AD/Judge Dredd (which are usually found in the TV/Movie or even 'Adult' sections), 4 types of Archie Digests, and various British Children’s books.

To recap, the following were never released at local retail:

-Sonic the Hedgehog (issues 214-228, 266-290)

-Sonic Universe (issues 17-31, 71-94)

-Sonic X (issues 1-4)

-Sonic Boom (all issues)

-Sonic Archives (all editions)

-Sonic Select (all editions)

-Knuckles Archives (all editions)

-Mega Man (all issues)

So was Archie Sonic overall a big international success story, as former writers occasionally make out? For Australia at least, sort-of. Most newsagents carried the series, and it managed to outlive nearly all other imported comic books, so clearly people were actively buying. It survived cancellation and came back stronger, a feat no other publisher on the market accomplished. Nor can I go without mentioning how for a time (or at the very least for Sydneysiders), Sally Acorn was almost as popular as Sonic, and a leading face of SEGA World Sydney. Even if the accompanying cartoon had quite a rocky history here, but that's another story for another day.

=Issue 43: The Dream Zone=

Spoiler
On 7/29/2019 at 7:14 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

So that’s what happens. These far superior and cooler looking robot dudes then the ones from present day start attacking everything. Little Sally and Sonic are concerned and, who I assume is, Sally’s mom tells them to head to Rosie.

I’m pleased you mentioned that the elder figure who stood alongside Sally in the flashback sequence was her mother, because for all intents and purpose, that’s exactly who it is.

Having failed to give Sally a matriarchal figure during their miniseries (she would’ve more or less been an expy of Callisto of “Uncanny X-Men” fame), Penders tried again here, and came perilously close to succeeding. The unnamed Queen Acorn passed the early production stages, until a decision came nearing the eleventh hour (either Editorial or SEGA themselves) to remove all traces of the character. With the comic close to completion and a deadline to meet, the best anyone could do was have the Queen quite literally erased, and swiftly changed to… Julayla. Evidently it came during or shortly before the lettering phase, as unlike future cameos by the Phantom Letterer, the font used on Page 7 Panel 4 aligns perfectly.

The in-universe change however is incredibly wonky, made all the worse given Julayla was clearly based on a feline. Rather than take an easier way out and just say it’s Rosie (sure they appeared differently at that point in the cartoon, but at least she somewhat resembled the same species), they doubled down on the retcon, further reinforced in the letters page of issue 56, before making her “new” design official with Sonic Super Special 5.

Or at least until original artist Art Mawhinney returned to retcon the retcon during issue 120.

=Issue 58: Friendly Rogues & Foul Villains=

Spoiler

While this issue remains best remembered for introducing characters like Rob O' the Hedge and General D'Coolette, it sports an oft-overlooked legacy buried in the letters page. After years of being occasionally referred to by editors as a Fox, "Sonic" (through Justin Gabrie) mentions Antoine's species for the first time as a Coyote. Be it oversight or retcon, this title would later be casually dropped by his Evil counterpart in Sonic Super Special 10, before the genuine article is referred to as such by Robotnik in issue 75.

It's hard to imagine Antoine as anything but a Coyote these days, along with his relationship with Bunnie. Fans at the time however, were less than thrilled by these changes, and took him to task over them. As far as organised fandom was concerned, Antoine was a fox, and Bunnie was always paired with Rotor (or in some extreme cases, Snively). It's one thing to live in a world of talking blue Hedgehogs with velocity fetishes using magic gems to fight a cybernetic dictator across floating islands and little planets, but a French Coyote was going too far.

But as fandoms do, older readers gradually warmed to it, while new readers went in under the assumption it always being there. The Bunnie relationship gradually prevailed to become the fan favourite as subsequent writers developed the groundwork laid by Angelo DeCesare into something special. A true turning point being in late 2002, when a copy of the cartoon's Bible first circulated among fans, revealing the series at least toyed with the idea of her having feelings for Antoine. The origins of this Bible? Leaked online after Penders sold his personal copy on eBay.

And speaking of said Bible, I've occasionally wondered if Len Janson was inspired to name the character after the 1962 French film "The Story of Antoine and Colette".

=Issue 68: Surprise!=

Spoiler

 

On 5/15/2020 at 2:40 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Kw63wvqOek2ywrcZmkuXbXPPwo70UoQ1zYFs9zizqlw0TpFuUnmtKZuHF1awyO4Q4tfdb4YhRV0ChDJTbKy1RJNaatX9Brlz2Ch291197-o-1etJvqvnxNhWxMelf_U9Z9-Lvv1Q

Sometimes a simple title can be one of the better ones. Honestly, I find that to be the case most often really. This is also just a really awesome, dynamic looking cover. It looks phenomenal. Let’s see what happens to muck up Sonic’s birthday.
 

Who's idea was it to include "...Hope you Survive the Experience!" on the cover; the writer, editorial, or knowing their extensive history elsewhere, both? Either way, it's a neat nod to a running gag over at the House of Ideas. For many years, whenever a new character was introduced in "Uncanny X-Men", the cover would read "Welcome (insert name here)... Hope you Survive the Experience!" It's a shame they stopped doing that.

On 5/15/2020 at 2:40 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

But no, the actual surprise is that Sally’s got a long lost brother she’s either never knew about or remembered and he came back two days ago. SURPRISE!!!

XmS8xpsPR4_HWLlT15OL-iYMnRz-BqZKphq7h1wj_v57ndn6ImnrxxX_koysEsyypmwr4huV83CgLVL24xrJ8vqERVJt4Xyxml4PVvEubvwgs3CpIpUyCPzt33WXOVXQkXCWmHIF

… 

… SURPRIIIIIIIIIIIISE!!!!!!!!!

Oh, Prince Elias. Before you evolved into Knothole's favourite Beefcakorn, your title came under question in more ways than one.

Again  it's well established that Penders conceived the idea of giving Sally an extended family as far back as the original draft of their miniseries. What isn't talked about however, is that he didn't name the young prince. He mentioned on the original message board many years ago that Karl Bollers was the one who suggested they be named Elias. Evidently he and/or Editorial liked it enough, and the Acorn's prodigal son has been referred to as ever since.

Like most of the post you're reading, this happened over two decades ago, and the only evidence seemingly available to corroborate such an outlandish tale these days is a brief comment from Dan Drazen's review. In a post-litigation landscape, it's debatable whether or not the author maintains this narrative, or might even suggest the story's a load of misconstrued memories and fake news. But is it truly? Of course I have no doubt fans would know that, after a 444 page topic and under no uncertain terms, Penders would *never* do something like lift a title from someone else and apply it to his own work as true and original content.

=Issue 79: The Chaos Factor=

Spoiler

The utter turmoil behind SEGA's mandated comic adaptation of "Sonic Adventure" is the stuff of legend, and extensively talked about here last year; be it switching artists, plot point not making sense, editors adding their own ideas (Mayor Bullyani, anyone?), and the Phantom Letterer rewriting whole finished pages at the drop of a hat.

Among these tales is the cancellation of Knuckles' book, and subsequent cramming into the back pages. Something I've always wondered however is just how far they were in production before the changeover, because at one point, two versions of "The Chaos Factor" existed.

Now, Penders has mentioned several times over the years that Gabrie called him to confirm the book's swansong while he was writing the first instalment of the "King of the Hill" storyline. This implies the script had to be reduced to fit 11 pages before Steven Butler began pencilling, but I'm not entirely convinced. I remember when page 7 went up for sale around 2001, it looked notably different from the finished product, with more panels and changes in structure and layout. Assuming the pages still exist somewhere, I believe this story was entirely written and (at least mostly) pencilled in its original 16 page format. When the book was cancelled, they had to cut and paste, or ask Butler to entirely redraw certain parts. The extensive usage of the Phantom Letterer throughout this story certainly leans towards such a theory.

=Issue 82: Double-Crossed Circuits=  

Spoiler

  

On 8/24/2020 at 6:34 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

lb_NDH8yir7-7fxhHnR3sznMh46MuTAZe_osDNhhHYf0Ttu0tvswQtYLTxZT1Cwdkukhj5eBpVnGuKuAdt4J7WlvP4mpBCydCW6zklf5UuTe-vv1dihL4oWmpiKw6vB-Fw-FD3SV

This is actually a really nice cover. It's warped to look like we’re watching it through a puddle of water or something. Plus, the simplicity of what’s happening makes for a much more enticing set-up. It’s interesting that the Chaos fight is happening now when some of the other stories have reached a point far past this point in the game. In the game this was almost literally the first thing that happened, aside from Chaos breaking out of the Master Emerald in Knuckles’ story.

An earlier draft of this cover was originally going to be used for issue 80. When the Knuckles series was cancelled, most of Manny Galan's completed art was merged with new assets produced by Spaziante to create the hodgepodge fans know and raise an eyebrow over today. Any remaining work Galan produced also featured on the follow up issue's cover.

On 8/24/2020 at 6:34 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

This is a recreation of Gamma’s story, although with it’s own little flavor and minor embellishments of course. It begins the same way and goes the same way for pretty much all of it though. I do actually like the touches given to Gamma’s training in targeting the Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles dolls. They’re made to look really scary, as though the heroes are the monsters to this robot.

CALkmUbosHLS89J7RXvpLV5kHY6earDx31lQRgxna-GHECWJO9eTHDe2gR4UFrqEE7gy-JxG5UIIl2becdpNz9dkv8CMrMxlS4YVyCWSOiNWjLfnR1AUdEuu236px7H_BlILgL3c

Speaking of the earlier debate over E-100 units, this issue's backup story also raised a few questions, specifically who's responsible. A printing oversight saw credits for both stories cut from the frontispiece, an issue that unlike prior month's cover miscredits, was never resolved.

For anyone curious, "Double-Crossed Circuits" was written and inked by Penders, and illustrated by Jim Valentino. Frank Gagliardo was on colours, and lettering by Vickie Williams. Or at least part of it, since the Phantom Letterer went nuts after recieving an English script for the game.

Page 5 went up for auction about a decade ago, and is presumably in the hands of a private collector.

=Issue 89: Thicker Than Water=

Spoiler

 

On 9/21/2020 at 2:18 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

It’s another Karl Bollers and James Fry story. I can only hope this one turns out to be as good as the first.

In another case of last-second shuffled credits, "Thicker Than Water" was entirely inked by Penders. The story was originally scheduled for Andrew Pepoy, but he had to drop out before work could commence. With that dreaded deadline looming, Penders inked it while working his booth over the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con 2000.

Pepoy would later return the favour by stepping in to ink the Knuckles story in issue 101 while Penders was having/recovering from surgery.

=Issue 90: Sword of Omens=  

Spoiler

 

On 9/28/2020 at 8:01 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

It’s here where Sonic and Mina have their first real conversation with one another since the last time they spoke. It’s interesting how Mina is choosing to cope with her losses here because it kind of feels like she barely is. Sonic, appropriately just refers to her as a girl because he doesn’t immediately recall meeting her. He’s mostly just telling her to be careful and stuff but Mina really doesn’t care about being ambushed by robots or anything. She figures it’d be better to get captured so she could at least confront Robotnik about why he destroyed her life.

Sonic’s off to Robotropolis to try and restore Uncle Chuck and Muttski’s free will. Mina’s off to Robotropolis to make good her suicidal tendencies from issue 78, something I’m glad you pointed out in that review. Along with Sonic and Rosie’s conversation in issue 54, these subtle character moments are jewels among the pages, adding a level of realism to their plights and the consequences of Robotnik’s overall influence on their lives. Bollers did a great job, and in my mind at least, hit harder than any blatant angst-for-the-sake-of-angst some later runs would indulge. Goes without saying that sort of contemplation would never fly today.

And of all the entire Great Forest to wander, they just so happen to run into each other. What are the odds? What. Are. The Odds. :P  

On 9/28/2020 at 8:01 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Mina picks Sonic up and charges off, going way faster than she apparently seems to think she should be able to. This means something has… possibly awakened in her? I guess?

It's the penultimate issue of 2000, and Archie Sonic was about to end the year with quite an unintentional bang.

As with many concepts working their way into the book by this point, Sonic and Mina's budding relationship was at the request of editorial. A well-worn story to this day, but the way fans came to learn of it however, is quite a tale in itself.

Rather being confirmed by a writer or upper management, the first inklings that Sonic's love life was about to take a spin came from artist James Fry. In response to criticism over Mina's newfound quality of her footwork, he mentioned during a conversation with fan "WB" (hmm, whatever happened to him?) that "Mina is (we probably didn't make this clear enough) a MONGOOSE. That's it. That's why she's fast. Them critters are awfully speedy here in the real world; we wanted Sonic's potential new love interest (that's right) to have something in common with him that Sally didn't; bam! She's a mongoose. As to why she'd never run that fast before, think of it as being like that X-Men style "super-powers-not-manifesting-until-the-onset-of-puberty-or-extreme-imminent-danger-or-both" kinda thing."

Fans were already suspicious when Penders alluded to Mina's growing presence in a prior chat session, but when this conversation made the rounds, they hit the roof. Like Nate Morgan before her, the character was immediately accused of being a self-insert, or the writers trying to destroy their sacred continuity by slowly phasing Sally off the book. As hindsight has shown, any fears of Mina stealing Sonic’s heart (along with the fate of this comic itself sadly) were all for naught. If there’s any consolation, she did steal quite a few fans’ hearts along the way, and remains something of a breakout character if the copious amount of fanart is any indication. Plus Mina was Bollers’ favourite character to write, so at least he had fun along the way.

As an aside, I always get a smile from Fry ending the conversation with "I dunno. I just draw the damn thing". Truly sublime and equally heartbreaking, since he was fired off the comic shortly thereafter.

On 9/28/2020 at 8:01 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

 

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PFFFT! What?! Okay then. So THIS just happens, randomly. Yeah, sure. I guess we need the Combots to retreat…?

Assuming you’re working off the copy I think you are, the long-circulated (since at least 2007) fan scan of this issue is missing a page. After Jiffers reports the Sword’s disappearance, it cuts back to Robotnik celebrating his victory. As he activates the monitor to check if Sonic’s still alive, then it cuts to the impending meteorites.

S90-ToMeToMe.jpg.30b2f44c55838f9d0e732cc159a529d5.jpg

On 9/28/2020 at 8:01 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Mina tells Sonic she lost the sword when he woke up, which means that not only did Sonic take the sword without telling anyone but he also lost it to the Eggman Empire. Wow. This is a bigger deal than I thought it was when I saw Sonic leaving with the sword last time. They made it seem like the cliffhanger was “Who’s watching Sonic in the bushes?” when they really should have emphasized the act of Sonic taking the sword more. 

To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have cared still but I’m at least recognizing the friction that this could cause.

Sonic immediately zips off to try and nab the sword. Eggman, at the same time, heads outside to observe the situation as his combots return. He really wants them to hurry the fuck up before those two meteors hit. He almost has a heart attack when he sees Sonic.

But before the meteorites hit, Robotnik really wants a good look at something of far more pressing concern; this month's fanart.

S90-RoboObserves.jpg.f91901ff1d0e8db3ccf78ad37dc15f95.jpg

S90-FlippingTheBot.jpg.5d06aeb62f94d3f4f4fd453d8c80a923.jpg

S90-QualityFanart.jpg.f401cd4c37754ac586f7af45b860061b.jpg

=Issue 92: The Wrath of Khan=

Spoiler

Australian Publication Date: 9th March 2001

Ah, now here's a comic I hold fond memories over. At that exact point in life, I had recently moved into a 2-room apartment in Huskisson, several hours south of Sydney. Being within walking distance of a beach was great, but it wasn't all sunshine and surfing. With no Internet access and nobody my own age to talk with, I would pass the time on rainy days in the company of a pen and paper, a beloved Action Man figure whom I acquired as an Easter gift the prior year (never did own a Dr. X, so I pretended he was always lurking in the shadows or just managed to give A.M. the slip), a guidebook for Dragonball Z branded Crazy Bones (remember Crazy Bones? No? Not surprised), and of course, a certain blue rodent from the local newsagent. A cornerstone of the town for many decades, these days absorbed by the neighbouring surf shop.

Young Me always loved this issue, but it wouldn't be until later when I logged back in and discovered just how reviled other fans were. Even to this day questions and critiques are raised, specifically two which often do the rounds. It’s something I briefly covered in the very first post, but would like to permanently debunk them here and now, one with a short answer, and the other much, much longer;

1: Did Ron Lim illustrate half the story, or at least the humans?

No. Ron Lim had nothing to do with 'The Wrath of Khan' whatsoever. All the pencilling was by Michael Higgins.

2: Why is so much of the artwork traced?

There's a very specific reason for this. Brace yourselves for Maximum Khanage.

2000 was... not a stellar year for Archie, or the comic book market as a whole. Between constantly declining sales, books making it to the printers by the skin of their teeth, and legal dramas with Dan DeCarlo and Melissa Joan Hart, Riverdale's favourite son was in enough financial woes to make even classic Peter Parker look like a millionaire. Orders came from on high for that if any of their books were to survive, they had to trim the fat. And in true comic book publication fashion, who else but the freelancers took the full brunt. This resulted in one of several transitional phases the book underwent over its lifetime, and while not given an official title, I'd like to acknowledge one.

Millennium Rites? No, these were Archie's Millennium Writeoffs.

Within that year, nearly all their freelancers were forced to sing for their suppers elsewhere. Some found more rewarding (i.e. better paying) work like Manny Galan, tied up with other commitments like Colleen Doran, or spectacularly outed later like James Fry. The artistic chores were reduced to two freelancers (Fry and Butler) plus one staff (Spaz). Any and all remaining inventory stories were dusted off and printed; Danny Fingeroth and Sam Maxwell's "Heart of a Hedgehog", Frank Storm's 2-part Monkey Khan story, the Comic Shop News strips, “Law of the Land” starring Sally McBeal, plus the two stories which became the final quota-filling Sonic Super Special, it too a victim of the purge. This new "skeleton crew" approach might have saved the comic (plus the annual budget), but when a link in the chain was broken through miscommunication or various other snafus, chaos ensued.  

"The Wrath of Khan" exemplifies this. As alluded to earlier, Justin Gabrie was busy trying to juggle both serving as SEGA's official representative stationed over on the West Coast, while keeping a book running back at Fortress Mamaroneck, in an era when high quality file transfers and digital conference calls were still a pipe dream. When this issue came around, Steven Butler had just departed for the House of Mouse, main artist James Fry was unavailable (he still made it into the first solicitations though), while backup artist Ron Lim was already busy with the last-minute SEGA mandated "Sonic Shuffle" tie-in. Thus he had nobody around to draw the story.

In stepped Michael Higgins. A fellow alumni whom previously worked with Gabrie and Bollers over at the House of Ideas, with an extensive and equally impressive history writing, inking, colouring, lettering, and editing comics. Unfortunately, while he's no slouch when drawing more realistic human characters, breathing life into anthropomorphic critters like Sonic can be (and was) a struggle, especially under the circumstances he faced. In a move perfectly mirroring what Frank Storm had to ordeal several years prior, he was given the script, a handful of relevant back issues, and a tight deadline. Despite these daunting odds and genuinely being unfamiliar with the franchise, he pencilled and lettered both chapters (which were completed by two separate inkers. If you ever re-read an issue and find two inkers on the same story, that's a clear sign how hectic things were) and the book barely scraped through to meet its printing schedule.

When this issue landed on 4th January 2001, fans were understandably disappointed. It didn't exactly inspire much hope for the future, which was already hanging by a thread in the collective fandom's eyes after both Knuckles and the Super Specials had recently been cancelled. Of the more vocal critics was Dan Drazen, whom not long after sharing his review, recived a personal response from Higgins (with Bollers serving as mediator). As the kids would say these days, Michael came to make an announcement, which for anyone who read it, remains the stuff of legend. It's truly awe-inspiring in tone ("My goodness! Dan - er, MISTER Drazen!"), hilariously vicious ("Even though I'm middle-aged, I suppose I should respect my elders, especially one who actually read STEVE CANYON!!"), and further exemplifies what tumultuous times were hidden behind closed doors ("And as if that isn't enough, he goes one step further. He takes the time to show such concern for me as to indicate where my true talent lies, suggesting that I should consider seeking work in the comic industry as a letterer. Sheer brilliance, and, surely, nothing I would ever have been able to conceive of without such a well-wishing individual, this good Samaritan, to point me in the right direction. What would I possibly have done without you? I once was lost...but now I am found!").

Could things have gone better? Absolutely, but business is business. Sometimes corners must be cut to meet those dreaded deadlines (something I'm guilty of doing on occasion), and remains a cautionary tale of when you're desperate for someone to illustrate your story at the last-minute, and the only person willing to is literally thrown in the deep end with no prior knowledge of the franchise.

Since then, Higgins has picked himself up and gone on to ink and letter a number of Sonic issues during the early to mid-2000's. Sadly, history soon repeated itself and departed alongside a slew of fellow freelancers in the Great ExHogdus of 2005.

For those interested, Bollers response was well-measured as expected, noting how he wanted to cover certain plot points earlier ("Perhaps if the Sonic Adventure adaptation hadn't taken up more than 6 months of our publishing schedule, I could have implemented that "stupid spaceship" plot a lot sooner. As it was, I didn't have the luxury, and once SA concluded, I felt it more important to deal with the Queen Alicia issue rather than tacking the ships immediately."), build on characterization ("To me it seemed like I was trying to establish to Alicia that there might be more to her daughter, this "princess", than meets the eye. But I guess I was playing to an audience of one. I suppose if you've watched Sat. AM and read every issue to date, you'd [already] know that Sally is a capable leader. But Alicia, unfortunately, hasn't."), and pacing issues ("There is a reason why I chose to make these stories multi-issue as opposed to self-contained as they were before issue #75. It was so I wouldn't have to try to shoehorn every iota of info into a 16-page story. If you want to check for yourself, compare the number of [balloons] per page prior to issue #76 with the number of balloons currently.").

His response furthermore revealed some of the inner workings over certain story directions: "I find this... amusing since the introduction of Nate Morgan, the "Round-The-World-Tour", and Robotnik's defeat in Endgame were all editorial edicts that were decided upon before I even became the regular series writer. Come to think of it, even the decision to bring back Robotnik in the current Eggman incarnation was an editorial decision, as was Sonic Adventure, Prince Elias, Queen Alicia, Ixis Naugus, the list goes on. Even the fact that the Station Square mayor was a Rudy Giuliani parody was blamed on me (did anyone even notice that the editor was credited with the story outline during Sonic Adventure?) This isn't to say that I think that any of these ideas are as reprehensible as Dan makes them out to be. I'm just saying that they aren't necessarily mine. I respect Dan's ideas concerning how he would handle Sonic, but if he were suddenly at the helm I think he'd soon find that Sonic would be handling him.". 

So yeah, these times they were a-hectic.

Bonus Side Note: This is the first story featuring Monkey Khan that Frank Storm had zero contribution with.

=Issue 93: Bagging the Big One=
 

Spoiler

 

On 10/5/2020 at 11:22 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

After a brief scene of Holographic Meatloaf Eggman lying to the Overlanders about how safe they’ll be and how he’s gonna give his dear brother Colin a special suite all his own, we cut to Kodos who has the Sword of Acorns.

No joke, I legitimately forgot that he had the sword. This didn’t happen that long ago either. I just don’t care about Kodos. Probably even less than I thought.

Good to know, because the barrels surrounding Kodos will ultimately seal both his and Arachnis' fates. 

The storyline flip-flops between radioactive poisoning and toxic sickness, but this is where it all starts. Said barrels were supposed to be marked as radioactive waste, however they were left blank by accident.

On 10/5/2020 at 11:22 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Here’s our Ken Penders story… and this time, it’s 100% all Penders. This story was written by Ken Penders. It was penciled by Ken Penders (eww). It was lettered by Ken Penders (get ready for a ton of bolding). Also, it was colored by Ken Penders.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Ohhhhhhh… dear.

While the author has occasionally boasted about being the only Archie Sonic creative to write, illustrate, letter and colour their own story, there's a bit more to "Bagging the Big One".

According to the very first solicitation, this story was intended for issue 92 with art by Steven Butler and Pam Eklund. His sudden departure 11 days earlier in August 2000 caused further turmoil among the crew. At one point the story was dropped entirely when SEGA demanded the "Sonic Shuffle" tie-in, which naturally took priority. Later solicitations made no mention of it at all, until the “Coming Attractions” in issue 92's editorial column listed the artist credits to Ron Lim and Pam Eklund. Whether or not this is the filler story he mentioned wanting to write during a late 2000 chat session is debatable, but not impossible. So in a way, the "one man show' routine came about because, like the prior issue, the story was commissioned/reworked at the last minute and there was nobody else available to do the job. The extensive use of photographic backgrounds reeks of filling space for the sake of it.

=Issue 94: The Best Laid Plans...=

Spoiler

 

On 10/5/2020 at 11:22 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

We had a single issue where Penders took care of literally everything. Now we're back to having Ron Lim on pencils and the other stuff handled by other people, as it should.

Penders was originally going to pencil this story too, along with completely redesigning the Chaos Siphon. When Ron Lim took over, any plans for the new Siphon fell through the cracks. In his own words, "...it's lucky that story came through even that well, considering everything that was going on behind the scenes."

=Issue 95: Enemy Mine!=

Spoiler

 

On 10/12/2020 at 9:54 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Anyway, back with the Eggman family.

6xgThacyFe3aD9HtRJ4baNavQQuX_F9q655e5pmLEL7avd8N28Kg5EfSlBsKUk4rKnDYfvK8HeKfJJb498CzeuMH38lO9t1S87Q8d-_Mhlh9O55jmx4J9wA5Jr64d3-AZfG4nGk4

This is so weird.

Snively tells his dad, who somehow looks way younger than him, that he’s bald because male-pattern baldness affects the intellectual types. I wonder if that’s true…

Snively's being shamelessly facetious here. As the prior issue established, he allied with this Robotnik purely for revenge against his father for never appreciating his intellect. The Data File included with issue 105 deepens the rift, with Colin outright disowning him after an undisclosed incident. It's entirely possible Colin never cared much for his son to begin with, and could even hold some deep-rooted resentment given Snively's mother died giving birth to him. In a way, this comment is Snively's first step towards such goals; Colin and his clan failed their decade-long mission out in space, while his son has apparently made a name for himself co-running an entire city.

=Issue 97: My Secret Identity= 

Spoiler

  

On 10/19/2020 at 8:40 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

We cut back to Eggman and Snively who are busy making a fool out of Colin by pretending to not be dangerous psychopaths. He leaves Professor Cheddermund in their hands to give them a detailed report of their unsuccessful trek across the universe for a new home. As soon as he leaves though, we find out that Cheddermund is under their control, through the helpful visual of computer code being reflected in his glasses.

For this issue of Sonic the Hedgehog, the role of Cheddermund will be played by DeForest Kelley, while Snively is replaced by a Ferengi.

On 10/19/2020 at 8:40 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Also, now might be a good time to mention this but the art for Eggman and Snively is particularly strange. I wouldn’t say it’s bad but it's very different. Snively looks like a villain from an extremely old timey superhero comic and Eggman doesn’t really look fat but more like an overinflated balloon.

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You can practically hear the air pump churning as it remains stuck up his rotund ass.

The more I look at this page, the more convinced I am Jen Irwin owned a copy of it. His facial expression combined with the oversized body looks like something ripped straight from her excellent “Ruins of the Fourth Wall” webcomic.

=Issue 100: Reunion=  

Spoiler

 

On 10/26/2020 at 7:05 AM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

It’s Karl Bollers and Ron Lim again, which is half good. Ron Lim has seriously nosedived at an impressive rate by this point. The instances where he would randomly draw a character perfectly don’t happen at all now. Shit just looks consistently bad. At least I got my wish for consistency concerning his art I guess…

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I say that and then I get this page where Eggman looks great, as does the Overlander he’s turning to a robot.

Mixed as reaction from the fanbase was, I've always loved the idea of giving Robotnik this power, or as we used to call it, "Robotnik's Midas Touch". It knocked his malevolence into twelfth gear, ensuring his presence alone became a walking death sentence. Personally it should've stayed around longer than it did.

=Issue 101: Altered States=

Spoiler

Australian Publication Date: 15th November 2001

It's well known how prior to SEGA's mandated adaptation of "Sonic Adventure 2", the main story was intended to serve as the special 100th issue. Or was it? The original plans ran far deeper.

A far grander story was on the cards, one that had been hinted at across the fan boards over a year prior. "Darkness Falls" would've been a single issue story co-written by Bollers and Penders, featuring Sonic's kinship with Mina blossom further, while Sally re-evaluates her feelings over Geoffrey, who potentially forged a love triangle with Hershey. As tensions grew, the much-hyped "Ultimate Villain" was to be revealed as a Chaos-powered Knuckles, serving under the thumb of an equally-powerful Dimitri, having used Rad Red's link to the Chaos Force as a means to restore himself as Enerjak. This ultimately led to an epic clash lasting at least 6-7 issues.

Or something like that. The full synopsis has never been leaked, but there are enough crumbs to paint a general picture of what would've been. Then again, maybe it's for the best the story never went ahead. Especially the Geoffrey part.

=Issue 104: Freedom Fighters of the Galaxy: Part Two=

Spoiler

An uncredited Emil Novak (no relation?) assisted inking the main story. All 16 pages of which still exist today, and are in the hands of a private collector.

=Issue 105: You Say You Want a Revelation?=

Spoiler

 

On 11/8/2020 at 5:48 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

HOT DAMN! That was a really good issue. I wasn’t expecting the return to the main series to be quite as good as that was but perhaps Bollers simply needed a bit of a break. The intense nature of that situation was well done on all fronts and Eggman was on point in both his expression of menace and his dialogue. The imagery of the Overlanders becoming robotic was used to haunting effect, even on Snively, and the resolution, while quick, felt reasonably so due to being intentionally bittersweet.

Jumping straight to the end, but seriously, how good was this issue? I remember skimming through it at a newsagent and loving just how bleak things were. Roboticize by touch? Awesome! Robo-Snively? Badass! Sonic and Sally saved Hope? Yeaaaahh! Killing off Nate Morgan? Noooo!

Or maybe it gained notoriety in my head. The shop was about to close for the night, and try as I might, didn't have enough to cough up a paltry $5. But when I went back early the next day prepared to secure such printed prize, it was gone. Took me years to find another copy.

On 11/8/2020 at 5:48 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Already, the first page does not instill much confidence in me. Ron Lim’s art has devolved yet again, with the characters not only being extremely angular and disproportionate but their legs are so thin, they look like pretzels that you could easily snap in half. On top of that, the bolding in the speech bubbles is distracting. It’s like a Ken Penders style of bolding.

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I wish I could say it got a bit better after this page but I’d be lying if I said it did.

The original title for this story was "Touch of Evil!", named so after the 1990 Judas Priest song. The decision to rename came at the last minute for reasons unknown, given it's still listed as such in the solicitations. A shame, really.

On 11/8/2020 at 5:48 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Whether I believed him here or not was a complete coin-flip in my mind. When I saw them do the handshake and Snively’s arm turn metallic, I wasn’t sure what was going to transpire.

What did happen, I did not expect.

Much as I prefer printed media, the digital version of this issue did a better job revealing Robo-Snively. The final “Oh, My, Gosh!” panel feels as though they intended it to be on the right hand side, so turning the page would build suspense on Snively’s fate. Instead they were printed together, which in turn ruined what the solicitations wanted as a much-hyped surprise.

S105-SnivversFate.jpg.11aaf2afb02efbed08c5d3865f26c9f8.jpg

On 11/8/2020 at 5:48 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

HOLY SHIT!

This issue is fantastic.

The art isn’t even ruining it. The story’s working so well, the art is strengthening because of it rather than the art weakening the story.

I'm glad you enjoyed it, because at the time, fans didn't exactly embrace the issue. Same with Nate Morgan. Had you delivered this review 20 years ago, they would be baying for blood. The hatred for this character was palpable, often considered a “Walking Mr. Exposition” who had no real characterisation and no real place in the book, or even Bollers’ (and/or Penders, depending on which fan you asked) self-insert. Only when the aforementioned series bible featuring Morgan was transcribed roughly 12 months later did fan opinions start to change, to say nothing of supposed worse characters soon reared their noggins. 

The particular source of ire this time around was exactly how the free will bypass worked, some outright declaring the past 104 issues of established continuity thrown out the window since apparently all you had to do to retain free will was simply don’t resist. It's not really explained with great detail, but this is a new version of the Roboticizer. To try and understand how this worked, “WB" uploaded a theory on the KP message board, which Karl confirmed as accurate, and later saw publication in the letters column of issue 108:

Since the days of old when Chuck created the Roboticizer, the technology has since then been soley in the hands of Dr. Robotnik. ANY kind of changes to said Roboticizer technology could be made at that time. This "secret project", Robotnik had been working on for a while was an "upgrade" to the Roboticizer technology. Think of it as a Roboticizer 2.0

It borrows from the original technology but is vastly different in what it does and how it does it. With Chucks roboticizer (well call it the 1.0 version)-free will was completely taken away, making the victim mobile, but unable to keep thier own free will unless some means of magic brought it back - this was the case of Chuck himself.

Dr. Robotnik has had QUITE a long time with the technology by himself to manipulate and tweak certain facets of it. And thanks to the Monkey Khan link, he had worked on cyborg technology before - which is how you can possibly incorporate Snively's button hand into this. If you just ignore the continuity glitch that an already roboticized something will blow up in a roboticizer, you can easily say that Robotnik's "Hand Touch" roboticizer makes sense if you think of it as a newer version in comparison to touch

The Roboticizer 2.0 rendering the victim COMPLETELY inert and immobile unless you submit to Dr. Robotnik - a bio organic machine himself....Its like a computer being controlled by another computer in a sense. For example - external things like a Zip Disk or Printer cant work unless attached to a computer, correct? So Snively had to agree basically to completely submit his will to Robotnik if he ever expected to remain mobile. Nate, Cheddarmund, Colin, and Agnes of course - never had that chance...

My guess is that when Robotnik WANTS them to move and do his labor as his slaves-he'll make them do so. THIS WAY, he has more control over his own robots and can prevent the Sword Of Acorns from interfering and providing a "macguffin" way out. He can pretty much have COMPLETE and total control-something the original roboticizer never really had a full grasp over

If you think about it in these terms it makes sense.

 

 

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Dr. Detective Mike
On 9/30/2021 at 11:30 PM, Paul-Agnew said:

Dr. Detective Mike, I wanted to drop by and congratulate you for reaching issue 200 in your weekly reviews, and let you know that you’re doing a great job. Fleeting as time is these days, I try to peruse the topic for a few minutes each week and see how you're progressing, particularly during the book's middle years. It’s truly cathartic watching someone revisit or entirely discover storylines for the first time that I grew up on and at one point knew back to front ('my' era of Sonic was when Bollers and Penders were at their peak, and was an avid poster on the latter’s original message board – no surprise there. :P ). Long may you continue.

This post was quite the heavy motivator, for sure. I'm going to make sure I also read through the blog you linked me to as well.

Finding out about all this stuff was quite the treat. Sometimes when you're in a certain part of the world you tend to take for granted the access you have to certain things. I couldn't imagine being into a comic like this and having huge gaps of things just not appear.

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On 9/30/2021 at 10:30 PM, Paul-Agnew said:

Oh, Prince Elias. Before you evolved into Knothole's favourite Beefcakorn

This is the best description ever but honestly I tend to think Bobby from ThanksKenPenders got it 100% right when she deemed him a "Twunk" that's a mix of a Twink and a Hunk.

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Dr. Detective Mike

Sonic Universe - Issue #11: Knuckles: The Return - Part 3 of 4: Echoes of the Past, Part Three

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Mmm. Ah man. Well, this cover just says it all, don’t it? I specifically remember this issue being a bit special because it was the first one I went to an actual comic shop to purchase instead of my local Books-A-Million. For some reason, the Books-A-Million would get the comics about a week later than the comic shops. I found this out by happenstance when I randomly walked in one day and saw this issue on the rack. I did a bit of a double-take since to my knowledge it wasn’t time for it to be out yet. Nope. Actual comic shops are just on top of this more often. I would still decide to go to Books-A-Million though. I had a membership there.

I continued to do so until Issue #2 of IDW Sonic came out. All of a sudden they stopped selling them period so I had to drive all around the city to find a new place to get my books before landing on the perfect place where the guy in charge hooked me up with a sign up sheet that guarantees I not only get the issue but all the variant covers too. 

Shortly after, the Books-A-Million I had been going to for Sonic comics and manga since 2008 closed down. 

Shockingly, I wasn’t too sad to see it go. The comic shop I go to is a far better deal. Not much love lost there.

Sorry old friend. It's just... good business.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Jim Amash
Colors: Jason Jensen
Letters: Teresa Davidson
Assistant editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor & Managing editor: Mike Pellerito

As an aside, the way Finitevus is drawn on the cover is a bit freaky to me because it’s the first time where I’ve noticed a groove in his forehead where that swirly pattern thingy is. It usually looks like it’s more sat atop his head or just a pattern on his head in the book in most of the panels, but there it looks like there’s a literal hole in his head. It might have been that way the whole time but I had never noticed it before. It’s quite creepy to think about.

Back in the day, despite liking Finitevus, the way he carried himself, and his power set, I was never too keen on what his motivations were. I really was just doing the equivalent to reading words off the page and not absorbing much of the info. It all seemed too complicated to me.

In a sense it might be a blessing in disguise, since this story feels so much fresher and new as a result. It’s also nice knowing that the Knuckles stuff was actually complicated so it wasn’t necessarily all my fault… it mostly was though.

We open where we did last time where the entirety of Angel Island is about to be hauled into the Angel Island shaped peg in Downunda by some chains. It’s a neat sight. Finitevus is asking Knuckles what they should do and Knuckles doesn’t really respond.

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At first.

He takes the time to slam Finitevus into some more walls before screaming at him that he wants answers. Somehow, he doesn’t know how, but somehow this is all Finitevus’ fault.

I love the placement of these name tags by the way. I can just imagine that one for Finitevus popping up on a TV screen with him making that surprised face right before he got chucked around more and more like a sandbag.

He calmly fixes his glasses and says he couldn’t have done that to the island while he was down here getting slammed into walls by Knuckles. He then tells Knuckles that he isn’t his echidna history teacher and doesn’t really feel obligated to tell him his business about his lab. He can set up wherever he wants, he says.

All the while he’s talking, Julie-Su has a gun pointed at his head. He isn’t afraid of it and even pushes the barrel of the gun down while explaining that he wants to team up to protect the island because the Master Emerald is on it. 

Knuckles says the Master Emerald is safe because he’s got a team on the altar. On cue, his “team” of Vector and Ray come out to tell him that they failed.

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I mean, it is pretty funny. I wish comedic timing like that could happen more often in real life.

Vector asks why they aren’t turning Finitevus into salsa and Julie-Su says they’re still figuring that out. Ray, unable to handle the concept of not invading someone’s personal privacy, starts to blurt out about Vector’s past to everyone to which Vector really wants him to shut his mouth. Because they explained that they were attacked by robot-dingoes, Mighty is able to tell what they are immediately thanks to them showing up right here in front of them.

Evidently they were followed somehow despite not going through the ring portal. I guess they were just spotted exiting it on the ground.

Well, either way, they have a common enemy so our newest Chaotix group is up to the plate to fight off more robots.

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Honestly, Finitevus doesn’t even feel that out of place here. I may not be fond of Archie's version of the Chaotix but I feel more used to the idea that this version of the Chaotix seemingly can be made up of any rando they want. Maybe Finitevus should fill out whatever application form they have to get in. I’m sure Knuckles would openly invite the guy responsible for helping him kill his shitty dad.

… Wait, no. That’d be me, not Knuckles. Whoops.

Well, anyway, Pseudo Chaotix group shot or not, it doesn’t matter because they don’t get to fight.

Instead, the Downunda Freedom Fighters, on literally the next page and out of nowhere, show up to beat up the dingoes in the span of a single page. They’re defeated on the same page that these characters show up. It’s done REALLY quickly.

On the next page, they’re already in the middle of introducing themselves to Knuckles and the others, with a nice handshake.

Now, obviously, we’ve seen these characters before. All except one.

Walt Wallabee is the leader. The blankest of blank slates but inoffensive enough to get away with not being all that maligned. 

Barby Koala, who one of the writers back in the day decided it’d be cool to have her start crushing on a literal child, that being Tails. I didn’t notice it as it was happening and had to have it pointed out to me that it was a thing. That issue's ineptitude was so outstanding in so many other ways that I guess it just passed me by.

Wombat Stu, my favorite of this group, literally just because he’s the only one that stepped out of his wheelhouse and decided to just BECOME a secret service member on a whim for a guy he barely knew because he was bored. Seems he’s back with his old mates now but I bet he had quite a number of stories to tell.

Guru Emu is a hippie. There’s no way this bird isn’t doing drugs.

The last in our group is another favorite of mine, Thrash the Tasmanian Devil. 

Ah man. He’s going places, Thrash. I can’t wait until I dive into the controversy. He made me so happy. 

I was literally the only one who was happy with the developments taking place at the time too which made it more interesting. 

The seeds of so much backstory and “harsh vibes” is all being packed into this one single page.

Oh yeah. 

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I definitely can’t wait until we get to THAT infamous story. It’s going to be so much fun, for me in particular.

That comment Thrash made about the number of echidnas definitely passed me by. I don’t even think I remembered him being here specifically but it’s nice to know the seeds were being planted early… only for them to not go the way the author intended at all later.

Meanwhile, Barby here continues to be a piece of work. First she tries hitting on a child and now she’s doing the Julie-Su thing of slagging off my boy Vector. She’s really gunning for a spot on the disliked characters list, ain’t she?

I’m open to being more fair to her about it still. After all, it’s hard keeping the characters to task on how they were written in short-stories from the past. There are some characters that were SO submerged in the assholic juices that to ignore how horrible they were would be akin to bad writing of course. There was no saving King Max or Locke in this regard. 

Plus, as I keep mentioning to my dismay, Vector was a complete and total asshole back then too. I didn’t like that Julie-Su was getting such an insane free pass to just be in the Chaotix and mess with him but I also didn’t like that Vector was being portrayed as such a goddamn, annoying, unfunny prick either. The conflicting feelings I had when I read their scenes together amounted to me just not wanting either of them to show up or talk to each other anymore.

It was like that for Sonic and Geoffrey too. They were both so insufferable back then.

The old comics did NOT know how to do rivalries. Or rather, Ken Penders didn’t, since all these examples were his doing.

God, it was even Penders’ fault that the fucking forced conflict Shadow had with Sonic was so bad and didn’t make any sense. 

It somehow isn’t said enough but Ken Penders is fucking awful.

So, the next scene is a nice little campfire scene at night with all the characters from the previous scene huddled together. The heroes are all sat around the fire while Dr. Finitevus is standing off to the side with his arms folded. Technically a part of the group but also not really.

There’s a surprising amount to unpack here.

First is the immediate news that Charmy and Saffron are off searching for more of their own people. This is interesting news considering we find out in Issue 212 that Charmy still hasn’t been informed of his memory loss or his past. When they do tell him, I recall him not believing them so I’m wondering how they’ve managed this. Perhaps Saffron is just leading the charge under the very vague mission title of “Find more bees” or something and Charmy was like “Okay, sure” probably? I dunno. It’s interesting either way.

I know they don’t find diddly squat too which just kind of sells the tragedy even harder. Sometimes I want to ask Ian Flynn if he ever had plans to recover Charmy’s memories but it feels like a question that might be a bit too uncomfortable to approach him with.

Next is the info about the Dark Egg Legion having been causing trouble for the Downunda Freedom Fighters here… and this one is a platypus army, which throws Knuckles and Julie-Su into immediate confusion.

The Dark Egg Legion is explained to be an exclusively echidna based group that’s stationed in New Megaopolis… right here in a panel where Thrash is opening his eyes as the info is given to him.

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I’m getting both clarification on a story I barely remember and am catching tidbits set-up for stories that I do remember. That’s why this is so much fun.

The idea that the Dark Egg Legion could be a legion of something other than echidnas is fun to me. I suppose that changed the idea a bit from “a group of this one species that loves technology” to “a group of ANY collective in a single species that has a superiority complex for technology”. I can dig it. That sounds neat.

Guru here explains what the dealio is for all us. 

That one missing member of the Downunda Freedom fighters, the oh so cleverly named “Bill”, who is a platypus, has rejoined the Eggman Empire. Apparently there was an old story where he was brainwashed to do it by Crocbot but now he’s gone back willingly. 

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I have vague memories of the older stories involving these characters but they were so unremarkable that they barely stick in my mind. I’m just going to take them at their word that the original Crocbot hypnosis thing happened. The Duck Bill Egg Legion thing is obviously new though.

I do feel the need to reiterate how much I love Wombat Stu’s little arc here. It’s so unexpected and kind of out of left field that he’d go off to be in Knothole’s Secret Service but it’s because of this that I find him more of a fascination to me. I know it was probably only really done to fill out a team of people but in the context of the narrative it sticks out as a point of interest.

Anyway, Thrash joined up with them to take Bill’s spot a couple of weeks ago. He says it’s because his own mission wasn’t going so well so he figured he’d knock some heads with these guys. He doesn’t say what that mission was, conveniently. 

All these flags and I didn’t catch a single one. Then again, how could I when, at the time, there was no reason to know there was something to look for? Bravo.

Finally, Knuckles asks about who should be on which team to stop the legion and take back the island. They wish to split into two; one that’ll take out the chains and one that’ll take out the enemy. Walt goes off with Knuckles to talk alone about who he wishes to be on what team, all the while Finitevus looks over at them out of the corner of his eye.

Unsurprisingly, it’s to have a conversation about Finitevus himself. Walt asks Knuckles if he trusts him. Knuckles says he doesn’t. Walt says that’s good because he saw Finitevus hanging with the Legion a bit of a while ago and is sure he’s about to double cross him.

Knuckles shouts “I KNEW IT!” and is about to go crush Finitevus’ head like a watermelon probably but Walt tells him to calm down and says that he planned for this.

They’re going to lead a group up to Angel Island while Finitevus is to stay with the oh, so reliable Downunda Freedom Fighters. 

Knuckles is okay with that, saying it’s probably best it’s out of his hands.

Guru comes out and says he doesn’t agree.

I wish to say that I don’t necessarily agree either but Guru says it’s because he’s not a fan of violence so Walt just tells him to take his useless ass with the group that’s going to the crater’s rim to free the island. He tells Julie-Su that she and Ray are going to protect the Master Emerald.

Shockingly, she’s far more accepting of this than expected. There isn’t much of a fight here, unlike what usually happens with Sonic and Sally. Ironically, this moment of the two of them being on the same page is met with Mighty and Vector talking about how weird their relationship is. This is strange because it’s like one of the few times their relationship has felt compatible and healthy. What a place to put the two of them saying this.

Julie-Su and Ray leave through the warp ring. 

Meanwhile, Knuckles’ group of himself, Vector, Mighty, and the non-combatant Freedom Fighter Guru Stu reach the outer rim and, hilariously, we see that the fucking chains are being held there by Finitevus’ golden teleportation rings to cover their distance to the island.

This is a brilliant way of using these rings and Vector makes mention of it also being a cool way to get around the tension issue. Knuckles tells him not to compliment the guy right before the robot dingoes attack.

It IS a little funny that the proof that Finitevus was in on it was right there but at an angle where they couldn’t see it. That’s actually really delightful. This man is a genius and also an expert, high-level troll. What a wonderful character.

Case in point, when the Downunda strike team goes off to gang up on Finitevus, the man uses his trolling skills to send Thrash into a blind rage frenzy that he’s easily able to maneuver around.

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As he’s making Wombat Stu slam his face into a garage door, he’s busy taunting Thrash like he’s a dog. 

“Easy there boy. Heel. Stay.”

I can’t help but imagine him saying it like Wonka to Mike Teevee to emphasize just how little he’s trying.

 

He even calls him a failed experiment in the fight too. It’s so mean.

God, and these fucking rings man. They’re such a great weapon. No matter how many times he uses them, they never stop being cool. I don’t even care if them coming back into IDW means it’d be stepping on Finitevus’ turf. He ain’t usin’ them no more, goddammit. Let em come back.

Finitevus is such a great villain. He’s so good. Just look at this dude. Such a better design than anything Penders came up with and such a fucking stellar use of his standing as a villain too. It’s almost criminal comparing him to Penders' echidnas.

Where is Finitevus’ shitty plan to rig an election that doesn’t matter? Not here, that’s where.

The Downunda Dorks are dealt with by this one man in about a page and a half. Barby is the only one left but she gets shot in the back by someone off screen.

We cut back to Knuckles’ group and they’re not doing so hot either.

Mighty just IS unconscious suddenly and being dragged off by the Platypus Legion. 

Knuckles tells Vector to go after him but Vector is being carried off by the robot dingoes.

Knuckles then tells Guru to go after Mighty while he goes after Vector but Guru just sits there. He’s already surrendered, saying that it was the only way he could avoid violence.

So far, I’ve yet to see why they allow him to be a part of the group nor do I know what it is he has to contribute.

If his contribution to team meetings is, “Oh hey. I’ve got it. Why don’t we just surrender?” then maybe we should be looking for another member to hold a spot within the team.

Dude just sits there and watches Knuckles get shot in the back by seven dudes all at once. 

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What a useless sack of shit.

Although, funnily enough, my cynical ass liked that he did this back in the day because it meant seeing the heroes lose.

Funny that.

We end on Knuckles alone waking up, locked in a room with the vile betrayers and manipulators of the arc standing before the helpless group and the ever defiant guardian.

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I wonder if Bill can see the giant purple text box on the floor next to Knuckles. That’d probably be the face I’d be making if I saw that thing there.

Yeah, I’d say this was the best issue of the bunch so far. I’m really enjoying the hell out of this story. So many characters are appearing in it and so much information is being laid at my feet that every two to three pages, I’m left with a mountain of things to think and talk about. Re-reading this again, it’s not even all that complicated. It most likely just felt like it was back in the day because I wasn’t too aware of who everyone was and didn’t know yet that it hardly mattered. What a nice treat this continues to be.


Sonic Universe - Issue #12: Knuckles: The Return - Part 4 of 4: Echoes of the Past, Part 4 of 4

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What an awesome cover. There isn’t even much that needs to be said about it really. The image is good but obviously what’s selling it the most are the chosen colors. The bright green of the energy of the Master Emerald juxtaposed with the supreme evil of Finitevus’ purple. It certainly got me excited to read what was inside. I remember it not quite ending the way I wanted it to back in the day but my priorities while reading the comics back then were very askew compared to what they are now. Maybe I’ll enjoy it a lot more.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Jim Amash
Colors: Jason Jensen
Letters: Teresa Davidson
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor & Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

Last issue, we ended on the shocking revelation that the evil Dr. Finitevus was evil and totally betrayed them. 

If that sounds like a diss, it’s not. I actually have a lot of respect for how the story handled that last time. 

Knuckles says he should have known he was playing them for fools and the doctor says that, yes, he should have. Man, he’s really setting himself up for a true “Boy Who Cried Wolf” situation down the line though.

Nah. Just kidding. He’s far smarter than Knuckles. I’m sure he’ll be fine.

The character box captions say that Duck Bill Platypus here is the Grandmaster of the local D.E.L Chapter. “Grandmaster” isn’t a term we’ve come across often in reference to specifically EGGMAN'S group of chosen villains have we? I’m still waiting for the moment where the Eggman villain group (before the actual Eggman’s Dozen in the reboot) gets introduced here. 

Finitevus working with the Dark Legion is a very interesting tidbit though. The man’s motivations are so loose that it’s definitely just a temporary union. Then again, he’s got quite the trusting face, doesn’t he?

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Yeesh. Those creepy red eye-lids get me the most. It’s like they’re all that remains of what he was before the rest of him was bleached white. His eyes were probably open when it happened and his eyes got inverted to black as a result.

It’s such a good design, man. Also, the fact that he wants to study the Master Emerald at his leisure makes him the perfect recurring villain for Knuckles, something both the games and the new comics could make drastic use of. 

I keep praising everything about this character but it’s all true. Both Finitevus and Scourge are true gems lost to the fabric of time and are destined to wallow within the pages of this cancelled book, forever. It’s such a shame. 

I would never do a Rally 4 Finitevus/Scourge or whatever but man would I feel the pain of those who put it together a lot more.

So, he leaves the heroes to their fate with the totally, truly traitorous platypus guy and the friends he totally betrayed at his mercy.

Nah, he lets them go.

I remember that happening at least. I didn’t recall why because I was so stubbornly determined not to care about any of these non-game hero characters. I was only interested in the hero characters I knew and these cool new villains. 

Granted, the Downunda Freedom Fighters were never an interesting group of people, but Ian’s used them for about one to two issues now and already he’s squeezing way more out of them than has ever been utilized before.

In the here and now, I’m feeling bad for Bill here.

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It doesn’t surprise me that Eggman seized a chance to allow one of the Freedom Fighters to turn traitor. It’s a tantalizing, heart-breaking story if ever there was one and he’d be all over making sure it happened.

It’s very shitty that all those platypuses were so gung-ho for that power though. I will say, they have much cooler Dark Legion designs than the original ones back home. It does sort of baffle me that an entire group of platypuses all thought the same way aside from Bill though. It’s not quite the same as a hive mind mentality but often it’s hard not to equate it to such. 

The echidnas had so much inner conflict among themselves that I can’t in good faith say that was true of them. The in-fighting was so annoying and LONG winded that suggesting they were a hive mind would be complete and total ignorance of all the garbage I had to read up to #160.

The truly fucked up thing about this is the fact that he’s been enhanced with cybernetics now. When I read that, this instantly became an unfair tragedy. It’s so messed up and it happened for so little reason too. 

They all thankfully understand and accept his story, with a nice warm embrace to boot. Even this weird hatred of Vector doesn’t seem to be lingering for long.

They all have to make a good show of leaving though so Walt tells Guru to use his trademark ruthlessness on Bill if he tries to “escape”. Bill confirms that Guru is still a pacifist after this is said to him, which is funny. Faking being ruthless to your inside agent seems to be what this guy is good for. Neat.

Thrash “voices” his complaints by bursting the door down with his mighty scream and they all charge together.

Walt tells Knuckles to hurry and protect his home while they stay here and beat up all these platypuses. 

Knuckles needs a way up though and they don’t have any warp rings so Mighty decades to just toss him up there.

It happens in one of the few panels of this story I remember because of how much it confused me when I first saw it.

I wasn’t confused by what was happening but rather why it was being depicted this way. 

Look at this page.

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Clearly, Mighty is supposed to be tossing Knuckles up but… it REALLY doesn’t look like it.

Tracey’s a good artist but one of the things I’ve had a few issues with back in his earlier days was the way he depicted the flow of motion. Sometimes he’d do a great job but then there were times like this where… nothing LOOKS like it’s happening.

The panel where Mighty is officially tossing Knuckles looks more like a still photograph...  except even that would have some motion blur or something. It’s more like time stopped on the page.

There aren’t any speed lines or stretched limbs or even much in the way of Knuckles being obstructed by the wind. I think like two of his dreadlocks are bent a bit and that’s it.

Even weirder on the next panel is how he “impacts” one of the dingo bots. It’s seriously the lamest looking impact ever. It’s just knuckles with his fists up and one of the robots is just exploding apart. It looks more like he bumped into it and it just fucking went nuclear on itself.

Yeah, I’ve always had a problem with this page and I think I still do. He’s advanced so far by this point that complaining about it now is rather moot.

Knuckles reaches the island right as Finitevus is by the Master Emerald.

In a scenario rarely seen play out in fiction, when Knuckles shouts “STOP!” Finitevus, the villain, actually stops.

Worse still, he actually tries to talk to Knuckles, doing his best to look like jolly ol’ Mr. Rogers the Echidna.

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Yeah, he’s doing this to save the world. Obviously. You thought it was something different? Pfft. Well no. He didn’t, because he’s crazy.

It’s not necessarily his fault that he’s crazy but Knuckles either doesn’t know or doesn’t care and try as he might, Finitevus isn’t very good at convincing him of anything to the contrary.

He certainly tries though. After all, he’s aware of Knuckles’ desire for clarity and finding all the answers that were once denied to him before. Even though Finitevus told him straight up that he has no obligation to tell him anything, he tries to do so now.

Then, of course, he screws up.

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In this collection of dialogue, he goes on to talk about a great number of things. The most interesting is when he speaks about how there’s always been an “Enerjak” throughout the ages. That confuses Knuckles since he’s sure Dimitri was the first one and that was only a few hundred years ago. 

It’s an interesting little nugget of info that sadly isn’t elaborated on much further. Answers to all of what Finitevus was proposing were no doubt supposed to come in due time (though, admittedly, there’s still A LOT of pre-reboot Archie to get through and I don’t think it came up again in this capacity so… perhaps Ian took a bit TOO long…) but Knuckles doesn’t want to hear it.

The instant Finitevus says “anything you want” is when Knuckles blows a gasket.

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Of course this is how it would go right?

Of course the only things that Knuckles would want are all the things this man with his wanton ideas of “saving” the world took away from him.

The absurdity of feigning to offer him fucking anything is insane. There’s nothing this man has that Knuckles would be willing to work with him to obtain. That bridge couldn’t be any more burned. He’s easily the most hateable person IN Knuckles’ life at this point.

Finitevus doesn’t seem to realize it or care because he attacks Knuckles back, calling him a child who is spoiled with power, blind to reality, and with no vision of the future.

They clash and the sparks literally fly.

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This insanely cool anime stand-off is brought to by Ian Flynn, a man who is constantly writing stories the likes of which torture me with how much I desire to see them or something similar play out within the games.

No matter how cool or hype these moments get, they’re always followed with a shade of bitterness at the fact that the stories for the games are seen as nothing but things that exist to connect one level to the next… actually, not even that. They used to do that. Now they’re just things that happen in between the levels. You’re lucky if they bother to fucking connect now.

Imagine Knuckles looking or doing anything this cool in anything other than a comic or maybe a future television show. 

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It’s a cool fight and one I probably read too fast when I first got the issue. I really do appreciate how the older me can sit back and appreciate a scene for what it is so that it lingers a little more in my head. The amount of time it takes to script, draw, and color something like this is astronomically shorter than the time it takes for a customer to read it and zoom on to the next page.

I am a little bummed that Finitevus’ power aura isn’t the glowing purple on the cover but I will admit that there is something unsettling about the pure black within the actual pages that he commands.

Even more interesting is the poem he chants. It’s not the same one Tikal read off from Adventure like what Knuckles is saying. I had a vague recollection in my head of having read it before so I went back and checked and he did indeed chant this same poem in Issue #183, if only for a brief moment. 

Did he create it himself or did it come about from ancient times as well, from a presence far older and possibly more sinister than Tikal?

I dunno. 

He uses it to do a neat fight with Knuckles.

It’s also a very short one.

Finitevus is about to finish things off with a very… VERY disturbing and messy inclination.

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But then something happened that really cheesed my onions back in the day.

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This is something I knew was coming this time around and was eager to see what my reaction to it this go around would be.

Julie-Su pops out from behind the shrine and blasts Finitevus in the arm, taking him out of the game long enough for Knuckles to drag him to the edge of the island and just fucking toss his ass off of it. 

First of all, it’s baller as hell that Knuckles essentially threw a guy off the world’s highest cliff with no fucks to give. 

Secondly though, I find this moment interesting to look over again. I seem to recall my thoughts at the time being of extreme disappointment, both because the fight was so short and because the resolution wasn’t a good anime, big-punch take down of the villain but a character I hated just sniped him from afar and things just immediately resolved.

Reading it now, almost none of that is what I feel now.

The fight wasn’t very long, sure, but the poignancy of what was said, the drama behind why they’re fighting, and the flashes of the blows exchanged were powerful enough and cool enough that it doesn’t matter too much. Tracey’s art actually looks really good here. We’re back to where he’s showing a good amount of motion and flow from blow to blow. It sells itself really well.

I do still maintain that the best fights in these books are always the ones that are given room to breathe. The ones that are crammed into the first part of the final issue of a story or sandwiched between a sloppy lead in and a rushed ending tend not to do that well with me. I recall having a big issue with this when it came to the Tails Adventure and the Silver Saga. I have not read either in years though, so my perception of the events is likely to change too.

Last time, I also failed to take into account why Julie-Su was there. I had either forgotten or, most likely, just completely ignored the fact that she was told to return to the island with Ray so the pay off where she gets to snipe him at the end didn’t come off as a pay off but as though it came out of nowhere. I now know that this isn’t true. It was properly set up and the pay off was delivered well.

Although, it’s a little funny that the old me was so upset by Julie-Su being there that I seemed to have completely blocked Ray out from my memory. In my recollection of this scene, she was the only one there. Seeing him there too was a trip.

All in all, I think this all works out a lot better than I previously gave credit to. I think one of the things that influenced a lot of my reactions to stories back then were seeing the solicits and the covers.

When you look at this awesome cover, sometimes what’s on your mind can be very different from what the book intends to show you, understandably. Or, if it is showing you something that’s within the book, it’s often the coolest moment of the tale inside for marketing purposes. It’s not necessarily a promise that it’ll be the most prominent thing within the book.

That said, I underestimated just how much of the confrontation with Finitevus actually DID matter in this final issue and for that I feel very happy to have re-read this.

Could it have been better or longer? Perhaps. I’m no longer convinced it outright needed to be though.

The group finishes things up and they all part ways. 

Vector has this… very cliché sounding, hinting at a backstory departure with Barby that Ray interjects himself into again, successfully annoying the both of us this time.

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Yeah, so far, I can definitely say that the stuff with Vector hasn’t changed as far as my opinion of it goes. I’m still not a fan of whatever this is.

Anyway, as they say their goodbyes, Thrash decides to leave too.

What happens here isn’t a hint towards what’s to come. It’s a fucking billboard.

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“Sure would be a shame if the last of yer kind were to get wiped out. Oh what’s that? New info on their whereabouts? Whoa. Look at the time. Suddenly, my old quest is viable again. Ta-ta.”

Even if I wasn’t paying any attention to Thrash at the time of my reading this, I’m still a little floored that I didn’t remember ANY of this when his return to the book came about.

I mean, I guess if I wasn’t paying attention that’d be only natural but my God… 

The last scene of the heroes is them resting on the altar. Vector makes a morbid comment about being upset they didn’t find Finitevus’ body, suggesting that he fully expected what Knuckles did to kill the man. Ray, of all people, is the voice of reason and says that Vector knows better and that he’ll be back.

That scene ends with Knuckles and Julie-Su being all lovey dovey with each other while looking at the sunset. I’m sure it’s a nice scene for those who are fond of that pair.

We actually end on Finitevus overlooking the floating Angel Island while on the ground with his arm in a sling.

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Back when I first read this scene, I thought he was saying something more profound and I thought the collapsed Eggman statue meant something more special than it did… AGAIN, because I wasn’t paying attention.

Here, because I was, I’m realizing that the only thing Finitevus is doing is restating his mission statement, though, only with more clarity towards where he now believes Knuckles stands in his grand scheme. The Eggman statue is toppled over because of the fight that happened here in this Eggman stronghold. That’s it.

Me oh my. What an idiot I was eh? Ever want to return to the past so that you could give yourself a good slap across the face?

This was easily the best of the three Sonic Universe arcs I’ve covered, by far. There was so much jam packed into this story and all of it done in such a succinct and easy to digest way. It was impressive story-telling that made good use of the normally terrible 4 issue format. It was great seeing poor Harry again, though his ending was a bittersweet one, he seems to be at peace with himself, finally. The Downunda Freedom Fighters are finally getting some development and the intrigue is something that I can actually see myself getting more invested in. I’m not too fond of the direction Vector’s story is headed but I don’t recall much happening with that anyway so I’ll do what he desires of me and drop it.

Finitevus is a master class of villainy and it’s a damn shame that we don’t see his exploits continue. 

Yup. That was the last appearance of Dr. Finitevus.

I searched my memory for the next time he was to show up and when I couldn’t find any, I looked it up online. 

This was it. That was his last appearance. That clash he had with Knuckles was his final clash with the red echidna… and it ended with him being sniped by Julie-Su and tossed off the island. 

I suppose the finale seems a bit worse with the benefit of hindsight but again, I have no interest in punishing this story for something it had no idea was going to happen down the line. This being Finitevus’ last appearance was a happenstance outside of the control of all who worked on this comic and it’s a crying shame. 

As the book goes on, we’re going to end up saying goodbye to more and more characters. There’s a TON of pre-reboot Archie left but the more of it we get through the less and less time they have. Brace yourselves.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #205: On the Run, Part One: All Eggs in One Basket

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BWAHAHAHAHA! Now, I REALLY remember the solicits for THIS one. Oh God. We’re still stuck in that time frame where these main book covers kept lying to you. When people saw this cover on the old, shitty SEGA forums, I distinctly remember a user making a comment mocking the passage on the front by saying “More like the team up EVERYONE guessed…” 

Well, now that we’re here I’d like to say that this person was wrong. This cover is a lie. These three do not stand side-by-side like this. EGGMAN DOESN’T EVEN TEAM UP WITH THEM! He’s INSANE! 

You wanna know what happens? He escapes and he takes a robot to Knothole and the heroes grab him and throw him in a cell. That’s it. That was all from my memory. I haven’t re-read the issue yet but it’s fresh on my mind because I remember liking the issue a lot. Especially since I feel like this leads to the bit where Eggman punches Sonic in the face. It’s great.

Also, literally never noticed that the pattern they were all standing on was Regina. I thought that Tails was looking back at Eggman with fear in his eyes but no. He’s looking at the Iron Queen. This keeps happening with these covers. I discover things I really should have known from the get go but just didn’t notice or pay any attention to for whatever reason.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Steven Butler
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John E. Workman, Jr.
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

The issue opens where the last issue of the main book left off… with Eggman’s cell door opening due to his voice override command. He babbled it in a sea of nonsense while sat alone in his padded cell.

Snively hears it, somehow, and comes rushing back only to come face to face with an Eggman on a mission!

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There are few memes I actually enjoy, especially among the Sonic fanbase.

However, the PINGAS one is one of the few that I actually do get a kick out of.

It’s SO out there and SUCH a fascinating, strange discovery and phenomena that I couldn’t help but be entranced by it. Every time the line comes up, I always try and say it as correctly as I can and yet I never feel like I get it down quite right.

God, it sounds SO weird.

SO WEIRD BUT I LOVE IT.

Snively freaks the fuck out and tries to call for help from all divisions and ends up running into the Iron King’s leg.

The Iron King tells him to watch where he’s going and then asks the clearly panicked Snively what’s wrong.

Snively tells him that Eggman escaped and fucking hilariously, the Iron King is all, “WHAT?! YOU DARE BETRAY ME?!” as if THAT makes any fucking sense.

There’s SO many ways in which that assumption makes NO sense. It’s just funny.

Yeah, the empire is going well but I’m gonna let out the insane man that I personally locked in a padded cell before you even arrived here and then run around in a clear and obvious panic and then TELL you that I did that to your face. It’s… wonderful.

Eggman, the man with the Master Plan, is now setting aside his Master Hand and driving a turtle robot to Knothole with his Crazy Hand because he’s now a crazy man with a crazy plan.

He rides off, singing his theme song as he disappears in the distance.

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It’s true that Steven Butler isn’t my favorite of the artists but the guy has undeniable talent. He can do crazy faces and he can do heavy impacts and carnage almost perfectly.

We cut to Tommy Turtle Memorial Hospital where Bunnie is resting up with her valiant husband sitting by her side. Sonic comes rushing in with a get well balloon to see how she’s doing. Bunnie says that all she needed was some rest and our literal only doctor in the entire city, Dr. Quack, informs them that it was way more than that.

Ken also went out and got her some flowers too, looking like he didn’t get much rest and the doctor calls him out on it. Sonic says he was with the guy the whole time so it’s fine but Dr. Quack points out that him being with Sonic in no way would make him (or anyone else) feel better.

As Ken is apologizing to the people who have already forgiven him (with him then reiterating that he doesn’t deserve it. Geez.) Nicole chimes in and says something wicked this way comes.

Sonic heads out. Ken is about to go too but the doctor points at him threateningly so he stays back to rest on the doctor’s orders. He’ll be with Sonic in spirit, so says Sonic himself.

Sonic comes across Eggman in his turtle mech and asks him if he’s not crazy anymore.

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Yeah, he’s still crazy. Obviously.

To be fair, even if he were lucid, he'd still be crazy. He's Dr. Eggman.

As this happens, the Iron Queen is giving out a plethora of orders. She ain’t happy. Up until now things have gone according to her grand plan and this is the first instance of something being out of line.

She’s really peeved off now and when The Bride of the Conquering Storm arrives to tell her that Espio failed in his mission to recover the Master Emerald and has returned to the Shinobi Clan, she gets even more pissed off. She doesn’t like taking chances so she’ll still keep tabs on the Master Emerald for later and sends Conquering Storm back to the East to make sure the other clans are kept in check, something Conquering Storm looks REALLY eager to do.

Regina is in full on business mode now. As such, she doesn’t even acknowledge the kissy faces Snively is making as she struts past him.

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I do tend to agree with her demeanor here. There’s a time and a place for this and it’s definitely not now.

Although, that doesn’t keep the scene from being funny. Even funnier is what happens in the panels below the two of them where Regina puts the Dark Legion in charge of defenses. 

Dimitri says, “Yes ma’am.” and then when she’s gone he promptly says “Fuck this. Lien-Da, you do it.” and leaves.

This prompts Lien-Da to then say, “No. Fuck that. I’m out too.” and she just bolts.

It’s hilarious but also expected. Why would they bother being super loyal to someone so clearly uninterested in tending to their needs? Ruling through fear has its perks but it’s not often been shown to work as well as ruling through reason when it comes purely to fiction.

Back with Sonic and Eggman’s… “battle”, Eggman has been going around at the speed of slow for five minutes. Literally, Sonic has been running in a circle for that long until Tails arrives.

They start to hitch a plan but Tails quickly sees a way to just squash this whole thing immediately. He takes the robot down quickly by going underneath it and messing with the paneling. He even mentions that Sonic could have easily handled the robot himself.

When Tails brings all this up, Sonic answers him truthfully every time, leading to the realization that Sonic’s going easy on him, which Sonic doesn’t deny.

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Sonic knows what Eggman has done is unforgivable. He knows this yet he’s still confused about why he’s choosing to show mercy to a mentally handicapped individual. Certainly, he shouldn’t be and I feel like he does himself a bit of a disservice insinuating that he isn’t making sense by asserting that he is. After all, it's not like showing mercy to someone who literally only barely has any functioning brain power is considered "forgiveness". It's just humane. 

I think he’s more concerned about admitting it to himself because of how he thinks the others will view it.

In a way, he was sort of right to worry about it because Tails’ response shows no mercy at first.

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DAMN!

There he goes. Miles the Savage!

“YEAH! I’d drive him insane and I hope he chokes on his tongue as he gurgles his saliva for the remainder of his days. What of it?” Said Sonic’s little brother.

No, but of course, he sees the merit behind Sonic’s concern too.

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It’s quite the scene, witnessing Tails actually comforting SONIC for once. What a neat turn around. Just seeing his little buddy reassure him that his feelings are perfectly fine ones to have is great. It’s really just a showcase of how kind hearted a guy he is deep down.

Hopefully, that side of him continues to shine as we move along.

Tails still warns him that he’s dangerous though.

Sonic acknowledges that but still tries to go for arresting him properly, the way you’d go about leading a four year old by the hand to their less padded and therefore less comfy prison.

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K.O!

One punch and down! I Repeat, the hedgehog is down! The Eggman got him with the vicious right hook. Let’s hope the hit didn’t scramble the frontal lobe or kill him on impact.

Dammit, Jim, I think we’re gonna need an instant replay on that. Sonic’s body just turned into linguini the way it just flopped to the ground after that vicious hit. We’re gonna need a stretcher for him folks. This is what happens when you tangle with the Eggman. Didn’t he hear the song? He’s GOT the master plan! That’s what he am!

Eggman is so excited by this undeniable, clear and obvious victory that he giggles his way off the cockpit of the turtle robot and just falls to the ground

Sonic and Tails try to lift the ginormous mass of Egg lard but they’re interrupted by the arrival of some jerks who want him back.

Sonic hops off the robot and tells Tails to take Eggman back while he handles his new guests.

Tails is worried for Sonic but Sonic responds with a line that would be far cooler if it weren’t so wrong.

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Considering how the individual confrontations with just one of these leaders went down for you, the fact that they’re both here WITH an army is something I’m happy to report does NOT look good.

I’m really feeling it too. There IS an actual sense of danger here and it’s all thanks to those massive failures the heroes suffered before. This is actually really great. I enjoy feeling like there’s something to be concerned about. Can’t wait to see how this plays out again because, as expected, I’ve forgotten.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #205: Birthright, Part One

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Jamal Peppers
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman

Lien-Da, you suck at your job but the fact that you’re such a failure makes you such a great character.

She’s the clear and prominent example of ambition not being all that’s necessary to hold a position of power. She wants this, now meaningless, title of Grandmaster amongst the barely existing Dark Legion and she is stuck thinking about how the title has been kept from her for so long while laying on her bed, slumming it with the rest of her people. People she thinks are beneath her, obviously, because why else would you complain this much about sleeping in the same room as them?

She recounts an old story from way back when the Dark Legion was stuck in the Twilight Cage. She hitched a plan with her brother, Kragok, to take out the current Grandmaster Luger with a weapon of his own design. 

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First of all, I must say, I’m surprised to hear that Kragok was her brother. If this was said before, and it probably was, I didn’t retain the information at all. He seemed a lot more like a senior to her when witnessing the two of them side by side but I guess that was just the merit of his position shining through.

Lien-Da manages to kill their biological father with the weapon that Kragok gave her but whoopsie-doodles, it was unstable. Kragok actually told her this too so I guess it’s kind of also her fault that it fucking exploded in her face.

Still, my man didn’t have to do her like that? Or, I guess he did, since really, she was going to fight for her position as Grandmaster and Kragok really only wanted it for himself.

After Lien-Da wakes up, bandaged all over from surviving the explosion caused by the weapon Kragok gave her, he tells her the bad news in a scene that is chillingly cruel.

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“Yes. Promoting you now would cause confusion. Just like how Valve can’t count to three, our people can’t count to two, you see.”

I mean, hey, I get it. There can only be one Grandmaster. If you make two people Grandmasters and people take notice, who’s to say it’ll stop there? Soon everyone will be Grandmasters.

And if everyone’s a Grandmaster… no one will be.

Or he’s just a dick. It could be that too.

Either way, she got fucked over in the worst way possible by this dude. It’s such an insanely evil story showcasing Kragok at his absolute worst in the best way. 

Ian has done it again. He took a character I didn’t give a fuck about and made him awesome in like, two or three pages. The wonders of a good writer, am I right?

Well, back in the present day, after listing off all the Grandmasters that have been around in her time, she decides that enough is enough. Dimitri, who scuttled off to the lab earlier, calls her down to where he is as he has something to confide in her.

No doubt it’s something important but she’s lustful for power so she doesn’t really care to consider it.

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Sad to say, we’re coming up on yet another final appearance of a great character.

Goddammit.

It’s such a good story development that happens next too. I hate looking back on it with any kind of misfortune.

EDIT: Wait, nope. I was wrong. I got the timeline of things mixed up in my head. Thank God.

That issue went by rather quickly. Not much happened in it but the single thing that did happen was fairly significant. Eggman escaped from jail and is now about to be in the clutches of the heroes. I say “clutches” because his position isn’t really about to get any better, honestly. The cells the heroes have are like glass, animal cages for a zoo. It doesn’t seem preferable to a bouncy looking padded cell. Still, the story did touch upon some nice things and it was great seeing that backstory for Lien-Da, put forth in a manner that was shockingly NOT confusing despite dredging up those old echidna names again. 

Guys, I can't thank you enough for continuing to follow my journey through all this. It really means more than you know.

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SanPolo4389
4 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Look at this page.

4-_MdUNELl0xloYq3l9FMSYG2GQsd5rI1HQfOO6qoNVLxEout5_knX-Wfx_Q0mZDOg2PMFWBMKIZm6IUTBcV2Fer7B7k_ArkY1Po7l5Qnp0-jTxmCnM90QaL8Fm8NmzO3Ehgh7Nd=s0

"I have to go now, my island needs me."  'slide whistle noise'

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SanPolo4389
4 hours ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Sad to say, we’re coming up on yet another final appearance of a great character.

Goddammit.

It’s such a good story development that happens next too. I hate looking back on it with any kind of misfortune.

Wait who? Dimitri? Doesn't he come back later?

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Dr. Detective Mike
1 hour ago, SanPolo4389 said:

Wait who? Dimitri? Doesn't he come back later?

Yes, he does. My memory conked out there at the end again. 

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow

You know, as much as it sucks we’ll never see Finitivus again, I gotta say that his last appearance feels…”complete” in a vague way.

We obviously never get to see the full extent of his plans, but it still feels good to see that he actually gets to complete the stories that he does show up in instead of getting abruptly ended due to outside circumstances.

Is that just me?

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On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Vector asks why they aren’t turning Finitevus into salsa

Which is...kind of a super graphic image when you think about it. 

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Guru Emu is a hippie. There’s no way this bird isn’t doing drugs.

I 100% read him in 1987 Michaelangelo's voice. I don't care it isn't even remotely Australian it just fits.

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

I know they don’t find diddly squat too which just kind of sells the tragedy even harder. Sometimes I want to ask Ian Flynn if he ever had plans to recover Charmy’s memories but it feels like a question that might be a bit too uncomfortable to approach him with

If you want to you can ask him questions for his podcast the Bumblekast on Twitter but you need to remember to actually tag the Bumblekast twitter account. I also use the hashtag Bumblekast but I'm not sure it's required. 

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

That one missing member of the Downunda Freedom fighters, the oh so cleverly named “Bill”, who is a platypus,

Hey cut him some slack Mike Gallagher created him of course his name is a bad pun.

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Dude just sits there and watches Knuckles get shot in the back by seven dudes all at once. 

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It's weird. I'm a pacifist for the most part but I look at Guru Emu and think "You fucking moron!"

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

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I love this implies that while Bill was definitely brainwashed the rest of the Platypuses...Platypi...Platypeople were super down for taking over the continent. 

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

Me oh my. What an idiot I was eh? Ever want to return to the past so that you could give yourself a good slap across the face?

Constantly. I'm still a dumbass but less so than when I was a kid. 

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

The issue opens where the last issue of the main book left off

That's why I personally like to read the Knuckles arc after this one. I mean there's no wrong way I just personally feel it flows better.

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

He rides off, singing his theme song as he disappears in the distance.

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"Warlord Doctor Julian Ivo Eggman Robo Kintobor Mach Two" cracks me up every time. This man has so many names in these comics.

 

On 10/4/2021 at 1:23 PM, Dr. Detective Mike said:

In a way, he was sort of right to worry about it because Tails’ response shows no mercy at first.

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DAMN!

There he goes. Miles the Savage!

Tails says "Murder your enemies kids" and sets the Sonic fandom ablaze. 

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SkyHorizon
On 10/7/2021 at 3:47 AM, SBR2 said:

I love this implies that while Bill was definitely brainwashed the rest of the Platypuses...Platypi...Platypeople were super down for taking over the continent. 

 

Yeah, when you think about it is a really smart point: in the (awful) story with Crocbot, Bill was the only one brainwashed, the rest of the Platypuses joined by their own volition (making them awful people). 

P.S: 205 is also the very first issue where it was confirmed that the Twilight Zone IS the Twilight Cage.

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Dr. Detective Mike

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #206: On the Run, Part Two

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I never quite understood this cover. It’s very strange. There’s shuriken destroying the trees or logs with spider patterns on them… or maybe Sonic’s the one destroying them… or both are destroying them. Also, he’s drooling again. I don’t know why. I feel like I understand what it's depicting, just not why it's being depicted this way... I guess. 

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Steven Butler
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John E. Workman, Jr.
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

We begin with Tails telling Sonic that he can’t take on the whole Iron Dominion by himself. Sonic says he isn’t going to. At first, I thought that meant he wasn’t planning on trying to fight the whole time, and that might still be true, but he makes sure to ask about the number of people in the Iron Dominion and points out just how many aren’t here.

For some reason, Regina considers him pointing this out to be an act of overconfidence on his part but Sonic quickly shows her that it’s not. Not entirely anyway. He brings up a point about himself that even I haven’t really considered.

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Thinking about how the battle against Eggman could be perceived as a clash of two people who, given the other stands out of their way, could potentially take over the world is an interesting thought. Although, I personally don't like viewing Sonic as being that powerful and I have my doubts regardless. Scourge's bellyaching about taking things over have been hinted to me to be a little exaggerated but we'll talk about that later.

Happy to know that Tails considers what Sonic’s doing at present to be fun though. Either that or he’s just beside himself with how unfun hauling Eggman around is.

Ken races up to Sally as she’s on her way to meet up with Sonic and Tails. My dude, love stricken as he obviously is, simply wishes to chat and also slyly makes mention of having snuck away from Dr. Quack. A really unintimidating warning that he’ll have to deal with the doctor later does not sway him to turn back.

They then get shocked when they see Tails pull up with Eggman in tow. Dude looks like he’s dying but the thing I can’t help but get distracted by is how tall Steven Butler keeps making these characters.

That weird case of realistic human body proportions still plagues the book from time to time. Thankfully it doesn’t look as bad but man is it still distracting.

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Tails looks insanely stretched out in the top panel but it’s even weirder how it looks like he shrinks when Sally stands up in the bottom one. I know it’s because Sally is supposed to be taller than him but it looks more like someone is adjusting a size slider in a video game to me. Tails is a bit behind Sally so he’d naturally be a bit smaller but the perspective is really off. It just looks more and more like he’s super tiny the longer I stare at it.

Gotta love this conversation too. The casual manner in which Ken just says they should finish Eggman off is great but Sally’s response denouncing that is spoken in the same cool manner. It’s purely for bargaining reasons of course.

I guess it’s reasonable to assume that having Eggman could lead to a lot of benefits. I didn’t consider sway over the sub-bosses to be one of them since I just figured they all hated him but since I haven’t seen them yet, I’ve no clue what their individual motivations would be.

Back with Sonic, he’s making the Yagyu look like chumps and it’s pissing Regina off. Snively’s usually lovey dovey banter isn’t working and she yells at him that she didn’t come here to be on the record of Snively’s endless failures… so she sends in her glorious king.

Why I love this guy just keeps being highlighted without fail. Anyone who can so easily just take a mace to Sonic’s mouth has got my undying respect.

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Seriously. "Iron" King is right. Dude just isn’t going to fall over. Sonic's brains have been turned to scrambled eggs.

Also, yeah, I do still just like seeing Sonic humbled and beat up. He deserved it for the lame “Batta Batta Swing” thing he was about to do.

Even funnier is when Jun Kun grabs Sonic and holds him up like a trophy, having demolished him with a single hit no less, Regina grants him his praise and Snively’s all pissy in the corner of the panel as a result.

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That feeling when your girl starts eying her ex/the guy she’s currently cheating on with you. 

Granted, the Iron King and Queen’s union isn’t based on any “love”. That’s one of the most obvious, unspoken things about this relationship. 

What’s great is what happens next though.

Sally, Amy, Tails, and Antoine ride up in a little saucer vehicle to try and bum rush the Iron King and he just DESTROYS it with another single swing.

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They all leap out of the way of course and even manage to damage his armor when they cut through the smoke to attack him. He’s invulnerable so it doesn’t really do much aside from piss him the fuck off.

Even better is Tails deciding to give the bad guys the old “One, Two” where he tosses Sonic against both Regina and Snively’s hover vehicles.

The two of them start to crash as the heroes decide they’ve pushed their luck too much and retreat with the Zoidberg scuttle back to the village so they can quickly throw up the shield.

Jun Kun probably would have managed to catch them but Regina shouts for her to be prioritized in the rescue first. He catches her pod while Snively’s crashes and he leaps out to save himself from the explosion.

Regina doesn’t care. She’s just extremely pissed off and shouts at them to be captured.

The heroes are in full retreat now. Thankfully, they have a Sonic.

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Right as Jun Kun manages to catch up to them is when Sonic is finished inputting his cheat codes for the rest of his friends to gain a burst of super speed. It’s where he grabs them himself and thrusts them to the finish line before the opponent in the race beats you… to death.

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This is brilliant by the way. 

I love how all of this is being handled. 

The overwhelming powerhouse that is the Iron Dominion isn’t being overcome by the heroes exerting more power that they don’t have. Instead it’s just a solid tactical retreat that manages to win them the day here. 

The objective of the villains was to recover Eggman and that objective failed because of Nicole’s shield and the strategy employed was to preoccupy the villains enough so that the heroes could have enough time to escape.

It’s a way of granting the heroes a “victory” without having the villains get defeated. Just outrun them and keep what they want out of their hands and they’ll leave feeling like they’ve lost, regardless of the fact that the heroes just ran away in style.

Ken makes sure to bring Bunnie to the front where the Iron King is banging uselessly on the shield so that the two of them can get some cathartic payback gloating in.

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Here’s when the Looney Tunes circle closes in on Snively.

Again, a victory is a victory. It’s cool that they consider this making things even but I would still say that the heroes’ loss before was far more humiliating than this. If I were Jun Kun, I’d try to take solace in the fact that they only achieved victory by having a really big shield. Where’s your poetic speech about having made them retreat now? A change in context can be quite the bitch.

We cut to a scene where Sonic is having a very confusing chat with Eggman in prison.

Granted, that’s part of the idea. None of what’s on Eggman’s mind makes any sense. His brain is scrambled and so is the timeline in which he thinks he finds himself but I’ll admit, it’s still hard trying to figure out at which point in time Eggman is in and what he’s truly making of his surroundings.

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Eggman asks Sonic who he is twice and he gives him different answers each time that are reacted to differently as well. The shift from kind to sinister to accommodating is amusing in how jarring it is. Ian’s done a good job presenting us with a crazy person.

It’s interesting how Sonic, for the first three panels, is telling Eggman the truth but then lies in the fourth one and that’s what gets Eggman to settle down and sleep. I don’t think that necessarily is meant to have any real significance but it was an observation I still made. Even weirder is how Eggman at one point refers to Sonic as "Your majesty". It's like he heard what Sonic said and thought it meant something completely different. 

It's like if I said I was an artist and your response was, "Ah. So what flavors of ice-cream do you have in stock?"

Ken comes up to Sonic and, completely flabbergasted by his conduct, asks him the same question that Sonic’s been asking himself this whole time.

He lays out all the horrible things Sonic has done and wishes to know why he continues to show the guy mercy.

Sonic’s answer is, once again, very cute and a standard example of the good nature of his character.

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It remains a bit of a wonder that after all the stuff that’s happened to Sonic he didn’t end up a little more like Scourge. Then again, the genuine support he has from so many around him probably keeps that at bay, though, it isn’t enough to keep him from teasing. You need SOME flashes that he and Scourge are supposed to be the same person but with different experiences coloring how they developed. Even when he’s not in the story, Scourge’s character is finding ways to be analyzed purely because of his relation with Sonic and the nature of what his character is.

Ken’s quiet, shocked face is also great and Sonic’s face looks like it’s almost anticipating a take down of what he’s said. Again, like with Tails, that doesn’t happen. He’s surrounded by good people, even if they share different opinions and ideals concerning this vile heathen. 

I’m glad because I love this eggy vile heathen. He’s my favorite, even if he is crazy.

Snively’s had a really bad day though and he seems to want nothing more than to cuddle with his lovely maiden once again.

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DENIED!

It’s the couch for you.

If they even have a couch. 

I remember seeing this development happen back when I first read it and being really bummed out by it. I still feel the same today. Sometimes I just don’t care who’s done what or if they’re villains or not. I hope the relationship manages to go over well for the two of them. I can’t help it. I think they’re great together.

Of course, Regina’s upbringing and the hue of anger she’s been drowning in for who knows how long only made this an inevitability. Snively’s so used to failure that he probably finds that being with her could stand as a reasonable way of getting past this but Regina sees it differently. She’s got such a low tolerance for it that it’s threatening to crush Snively’s little happy ending.

This is all a very interesting development though. We’ve established how tough the villains are, twice in fact, and in this third altercation, despite it technically being a victory for the heroes, we’ve REALLY just kind of outlined the final obstacle standing in the Iron Dominion’s way of seizing total and complete victory.

Nicole’s shield is the problem and the interference she keeps mentioning is clear foreshadowing towards something bad being on the horizon for her. 

Of course, one does have to wonder if Regina knows about Nicole yet. If Snively simply informs her of what she is, I’m sure it’d be simple for her to hatch a plan to get in close enough and just take control of her.

I know that will eventually happen but I’ve forgotten the steps taken to get to that point so I’m eager to see how it plays out.


Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #207: Birthright, Part Two

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Jamal Peppers
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman

It’s time for more messed up shit folks. 

Lien-Da walks in and has a chat with Dimitri. 

It’s supposed to be an update on the microchips that Regina gave them to vi-pass Eggman’s explosives. Lien-Da wants to hurry and distribute them but Dimitri says no. It would make them immune to the detonator but it would make them completely susceptible to her technomagic and thus they would be her mindless slaves.

I thought that was possible already though, seeing as how they’ve already got robotic enhancements in them. I guess it makes sense to avoid being in even more danger but still.

Dimitri does say that he’s managed to succeed at modifying ONE chip to build in some kind of resistance.

Lien-Da then suggests distributing the rest of the chips to the others and using that one chip on them, the leaders, by modifying it further so that it could, somehow, overrule her magic and control the entire Dark Legion with just a thought.

THAT sounds like magic to me, honestly. I understand the part about overruling her magic to resist her but modifying it so that it not only did that but gave HER the ability to do what Regina does and control the legion with a single thought? Can that be done with science? 

Can science override magic?

Hell if I know. It’s the Sonic series so maybe it can.

Dimitri doesn’t want to entertain the idea though. He’d never do that to his people.

As soon as he says that, his bubble explodes.

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Even though the heroes never did it for me back when I initially read this book, I found every action any villain took in this series to be wonderful. I was smitten by how deliciously evil and wonderfully unrepentant they were about it that the sheer audacity of doing something this horrible without any iota of personal reflection or even care on her face still floors me. 

Lien-Da was truly one of the few greats to come out of Penders’ time on the book, along with Dimitri here. Their journeys have taken them to very interesting places and this next leg is the culmination of a lot of build up and personal resentment.

It’s not enough for her to be Grandmaster, she’s gotta make sure that she has total control so that no one can fuck her over or rise up to take her place again. Dimitri, with his caring and sensitively concerning the survival of his people, is just in the way.

So, she’s going to do what is honestly one of the scariest and cruelest things I’ve seen a villain in this book do.

She’s going to throw him into a box and keep him locked away while he’s still awake and aware. 

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It doesn’t really need to be explained just how horrible this is of course. It kind of just hits you like a freight train. The fact that she can do this at all is one thing but to gloat about it with a smirk on your face is just the French kiss that brings it all home.

I have a tough time imagining being stuck in a coffin underneath the dirt and being unable to get out. Imagining it being an even tighter space, like a small box, and having no limbs except for a head ON TOP of being paralyzed anyway…?

The fact that my battery would eventually run out sounds like a sweet mercy but the fact that it would take a few months sounds like extensive torture. She might as well have just ended it then and there but no. She had to be far crueler than necessary.

I’ll admit to not entirely understanding how this happened at first, mostly because we were shown the panel of Lien-Da putting the chip into her after the one where she burst his bubble. However, that was definitely done on purpose.

The shock of seeing him just explode like that definitely got me back in the day so having the reveal be because she was putting the chip in her head works a lot better. If it had shown her doing it before it might not have had the same impact. Still, I’m glad I was able to work it out. 

Also interesting is how they’re both certain that the Iron Queen is going to one day be defeated. How they know that isn’t elaborated on but I do like the confidence in which they’re both certain this new regime isn’t destined to last.

Though, Lien-Da is still under the delusion that she has, in anyway, the skill to lead HER people to any kind of glory. When she says “her” people she means it in a possessive sense, unlike Dimitri who means it in an inclusive one. That’s the stark difference between the two and it’s a clear example of how the Dark Legion is going to continue to be destined for hardships down the line.

Because of the influence of this awful person.

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Lien-Da, you’ve become a big time villain. As far as I’m concerned, she ascended to one of the greats with this.

I remain confused by the cover after having read the issue. Couldn’t tell you how what it was depicting lined up with what I saw in the issue aside from maybe it being an image of Sonic fighting the villains… but why it was depicted in that way, I continue to not know. Despite that, the issue itself was another good one. I like how these battles are all different and are all choreographed really, really well. The goals of each one are different and are leading to new tidbits and obstacles for both sides to overcome. It’s a back and forth that’s fun to observe. I don’t think I’ve come across a bad issue since the Iron Dominion Arc has started, honestly. 


Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #207: Blackout

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“NOOOOOO!” said Jun Kun calmly.

I gotta say, even though the structure of this cover is a bit odd what with it just being Sonic running at the reader and the Iron King screaming at something off screen, I kind of love it. I really love the dirty, grainy looking pattern that’s all over it for one but the thing that sells it is the monstrous looking Iron King here. It’s such a marvelous picture of him. Those fucking glowing eyes you see people self-impose on people in memes are the best. It looks great.

Also, as per tradition, I’m just now making out that behind Sonic are Sally and Ken, looking in opposite directions, soon to be looking directly into each other's eyes within the narrative.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: James Fry
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor/Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

“Welcome to the planet Mobius -- A world beyond what you know from the SEGA games! Where Sonic and the heroic Freedom Fighters work to save the world from the forces of evil!”

Then the Powerpuff Girls theme kicks in~!

That caption starts us off and if memory serves, it’s something that the books tend to lead off with a couple of times more. No way I’d remember this specific caption if it were only done for a single issue. Seems a bit late to be informing everyone that it’s a world beyond what they know from the SEGA games. I could have used this caption’s warning when I started the book. 

I would have been like “OH! So THAT’S why it’s different!”

Alright, joking aside, the issue begins with us catching a glimpse of Robotropolis proper in who knows how long! Wow. It’s almost nostalgic. 

It’s a radioactive city surrounded by a bubble. In between it and Eggman’s new diggs in New Megaopolis is Fort Acorn, a stronghold with a group of army men led by Amadeus Prower, Tails’ papa, to keep any meanies with a hunger for radioactive weaponry and slag from pilfering what’s inside.

They seem to be having some trouble with the Iron King here. This entire fort is machine gunning the man down but he’s taking every hit like a champ. Not feeling a goddamn thing.

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I swear, this man is almost impossibly strong. It’s a wonderful change of pace having to deal with him. Nay, tis a pleasure. 

He bursts through the fort and sends logs everywhere. The fact that this fort is made of wood is kind of amusing too.

We cut to Sally and Ken as they have a chat together about everything that’s happened regarding Sonic’s relationship. We don’t see who started the conversation but I’m guessing Ken since he’s very much in pursuit of a new dream to chase. It’s reasonably within reach too.

Sally explains that her friendship with Sonic has been mended but she regrets ending things the way she did back in #134. She also gives all the props for that friendship being mended to Sonic. Ken doesn’t wish to allow her to put herself down like that and lists off her achievements while proclaiming that he refuses to believe someone so awesome couldn’t have mended a friendship.

I get what he’s saying. Just because she didn’t do it, doesn’t mean she wasn’t capable of it. While true, she’s saying that she decided not to and if it wasn’t for Sonic pushing for it, it probably wouldn’t have happened. People are all capable of a great number of things but the effort to do it is what really counts in the end.

Sally is happy Ken thinks so highly of her though. He’s really open to looking for the best in people. He’s even openly cool with considering Sonic a friend now. They don’t even feel like rivals really. All this, despite the fact that Ken is clearly after Sally’s affections too. His opinion of Sonic hasn’t lowered in any way as a result of this. It’s only increased.

Honestly, what I’m describing almost sounds like a healthy relationship. Being in love with Sally but having reverence and respect for her ex-boyfriend? Such a thing would be considered blasphemous in the old days of Archie.

As the two are about to get all lovey dovey, Nicole shows up in between them to interrupt the love connection before it can go anywhere, as expected. Can’t have a budding relationship without someone popping up to ruin the moment. 

She explains the situation to Ken and he decides to head off to go help Sonic and Tails, who have already been sent to Fort Acorn to help.

Oh, if only they hadn’t made their fort out of wood. If only.

Ken flies off on his flying nimbus, looking super sexy as hell to Sally. When Nicole asks her if she’s okay, Sally says she has a lot of thinking to do.

Every day I count my lucky stars that I’ve no interest in romantic relationships. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine it. Every piece of media I see makes it look like an extreme hassle. 

Amadeus is having a bad time, if you can believe it. He refuses to lose and shouts this at Jun Kun as he shatters his useless sword against the man’s armor. 

That’s when Sonic comes in, beams the Iron King in his face, and saves Tails’ daddy. Amadeus is informed that an evacuation was led by Tails and he races to the get away machine piloted by his son. Amadeus exclaims to Tails that he is very surprised and also very proud.

Proud Papa Prower.

Anyway, when they escape, The Iron King tries to smash Sonic again. It would have been funny to see Sonic get smashed into the dirt so that he stuck out like a flower while he was distracted, but the Iron King kind of has that happen to him thanks to Sonic realizing he can’t really hurt the man.

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God, I hate beans.

I’d have gotten angry too if I had heard Sonic say that.

Jun Kun sprouts from the ground like the world’s ugliest eggplant and sends the shocked Sonic into a tumble. The look on his face is meme worthy.

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It’s kind of wonderful.

He looks like a muppet that got a little too surprised.

Jun Kun also looks like he’s doing the double downward fist pump of celebration. He’s celebrating so hard the ground is exploding. 

Jun Kun brags about how all who have opposed him have fallen and that’s Ken’s cue to show up, as a resident example of someone who has faced him and is very much alive. They start arguing about titles, glory, tea, fish and chips, and the Queen which prompts Sonic to lay down, all cockily, and say that he’s just going to rest there and wait for them to finish.

It’s here where I wish we could have had a running joke of Sonic getting hit with Jun Kun’s hammer like last time. Like, just for this arc only, whenever he tries to be cocky around this guy, he gets his face bashed in. Believe it or not, I’m actually not being vindictive here. I just think it’d be funny.

Anyway, we cut back to Sally, who is visiting Bunnie and Antoine’s humble abode.

Antoine is about to leave to bring Bunnie some lunch so he’s kind of pushed out the door while blowing kisses at his wife so the girls can talk. I’ve always braced myself for this whenever it happens because it’s usually never gone well as far being able to stomach reading it.

However, I would say that things do work out a lot better here.

Sally openly admits to falling for “someone”. She doesn’t inform Bunnie as to who but Bunnie can read her like a book. She knows what she’s worried about to an almost scary degree.

When Sally mentions Sonic, Bunnie doesn’t even let her finish before bringing up the fact that they’ve been over and done for a long while now.

When Sally mentions not being sure if he’s right for her, Bunnie brings up the fact that finding that out is what dating is for. That one even I could have told her.

When Sally brings up the excuse that she doesn’t have time for dating because she’s leading a resistance against a war mongering tyrant, Bunnie says she never said it would be easy but she knows the type of guy she’s into.

Honestly, I can’t help but call a little bullshit on that last point of Sally's. I mean, she totally does have the time. Even SONIC has time to goof off and he's way more active on the front lines. Sally is literally here right now to talk to Bunnie about some crush while Sonic and Ken are fighting to stop an invincible ox man from getting to a radioactive city full of weapons. That last concern seems more like an excuse to me, Sally. 

Bunnie then just reads from Sally’s Wikipedia page at her. It’s the section that explains the kind of guy she’s into. All of this is juxtaposed against scenes of Sonic and Ken failing to defeat the Iron King.

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This monologue drives Sally to wipe a tear from her eye. Apparently hearing all that made her emotional, either because it helped her realize things she didn’t even know about herself OR she’s just really happy that Bunnie is this much of a good friend to her.

I’d imagine there’d be some people out there who’d find this a little creepy but, to be honest, if my best friend explained back to me what kind of a person I was, I’d be getting a little emotional too. It’d feel like confirmation that I had someone who really saw a ton of value in me.

At least, that’s what I feel. This moment is a little nice… and it being juxtaposed with the two boys continuing to lose is kind of hilarious.

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Like, imagine if this were happening right outside of Bunnie’s house. These two would be hugging while Sonic was gurgling on his blood so loudly, you could hear it as the two of them hugged and talked about how dense boys can be when it comes to making the first move or whatever. Gender based assertions on who’s good at love aside, it’s a nice scene.

The two of them strike at the Iron King’s exposed, armor-less face to get him to let him go… and he just shrugs it off and goes back to banging his judge’s gavel at the shield. 

It really is fucking cool how they just CANNOT beat this dude. They literally and factually don’t stand a chance at all. It’s wonderful. If I were capable of being in love, I’d probably say that I was with this horrendously huge mountain of ox.

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This page is probably the best page in the issue too. The fact that our heroes are hanging back, looking like they’re about to take a smoke break or are waiting for someone to come out of the bathroom as Jun Kun goes to town on this shield is indicative of how outclassed they are… but it’s also indicative of how “one track” this ox man’s brain is. 

He’s so preoccupied with making sure things FALL before him that were he to lose at jenga, he’d laugh in triumph with his fists raised in the air.

Sonic uses this big lug's ego to his advantage, naturally.

He races off and tells Ken to keep him distracted. So Ken does that with another whap to the head from behind that’s done in a funny, off-screen way.

Nicole pops in and asks about what that was but Sonic just tells her not to worry about it and instead wants her to re-create the power siphon that he’s after; presumably with her nanites or whatever.

Sonic then goes over to kiss up to the Iron King, saying that they surrender but only on the condition that he just destroys the siphon and leaves the shield alone so that the area isn’t polluted. New Mobotropolis will be without power but at least they won’t need to use the Dragonballs to get rid of the pollution destroying the forest. 

Jun Kun rubs his nasty looking sausages fingers on Sonic’s head, delighted that he’s “marveling” at his power and goes to do just that.

Ken then leans over and asks what the actual deal is and Sonic just explains that he had Nicole make a fake one for the Iron King of Overkill to smash. By the time he finds out, they’ll be long gone and New Mobotropolis will, somehow, be even more secure.

So they go home.

I’ll admit to only having followed some of that but I guess it doesn’t really matter. They’ve won again, technically.

They head home and the moment I’ve talked about before where that one sad motherfucker ripped his comic in half happens here.

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Oh dear. What on Earth will Sonic do?

Perish the thought that he go out to dinner with a member of the opposite sex that isn’t Sally.

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WHA-WHA-WHA-WHA-WHA-WHAAAAAAT?! HE IS?!

WHY… WHY HOW DARE HE?! 

THESE TWO CARTOON ANIMALS BEING TOGETHER HAS SET OFF MY NERD RAGE! I CAN’T HANDLE IT! MUST SHOVE COMIC INTO PAPER SHREDDER! 

THE MOUTH FOAM IS GOING EVERYWHERE AS I WRIGGLE MY CHEEKS ABOUT IN OUTRAGE! HUBBURBURBURBURBUR!

So, yeah, when I saw the moment, I’ll admit… I thought it was a neat looking ending picture… however, there wasn’t a single, NOT A SINGLE, bit of me that seriously believed he was going to stick with Amy. 

I don’t want to make any judgment calls on anyone who seriously believed there was a chance this was leading to something permanent but… no.

And, honestly, it’s a shame too. This may be the perspective of an asexual person but to be honest the pairings of SonicXAmy and SallyXKen just seem more interesting to me. I’ve already explained why the Sonic and Amy pairing is something I tend to find a bit interesting but there’s also the fact that this book has kind of weaned me off of ever wanting to see Sonic and Sally romantically involved again.

Honestly, even in Ian’s era, it felt mostly like some kind of chore. The issues before #160 didn’t handle it the best and now, Ian’s going on this grand journey to develop their relationship back to something more healthy so that the door can open for them again after that infamous slap. It takes a really long time and when it finally does mend itself, I still find that I don’t really care because at that point, what’s in my head is that of two people who shouldn’t be together just kind of stumbling to make it work. 

Whenever I see them kiss my reaction is always, “Okay, so when are they going to be arguing again?”

I don’t entirely know how fair that is, given that I’m only going off of my current experiences with this comic and my faulty memory but the feeling I have regarding those two has remained consistent throughout this whole retrospective, from issue 1 to now. I just like them as a couple.

But a lot of other people do care and BOY HOWDY were they sure to make sure they knew it. I was delighted and tickled all over reading the initial responses to this scene on the internet back in the day. The one where the guy ripped his comic in half and the response from another was “and nothing of value was lost” was peak comedy. 

That’s my go-to example for why it makes perfect sense for Ian to have denounced diving into the romance shit ever again. People online get irrationally crazy over a lot of things and their OTPs is probably close to the top of the list. No thank you. I wouldn’t have even bothered mentioning the romance were I in charge. I’d have just made them friends again and carried on with other stuff. The slap? What slap? The only thing that slaps here are the soundtracks to these Sonic games, my friends.

I’m trying so hard to imagine caring that much about this relationship and it’s just not registering. I care more about Regina and Snively than those two.

I guess some were just less willing to believe that Ian wasn’t going to status quo everything again. He totally will though. It's part of developing Sally back to the point of being comfortable kissing Sonic again. After all, why change things TOO much when the book has SO much time left to develop things further? 

It’s an ongoing story. Nothing’s going to keep it from ending anytime soon, surely.

Surely.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #207: The Iron Queen

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Renae De Liz
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman

Regina is PISSED.

Snively’s stuttering and Jun Kun’s excuse that it LOOKED like a power siphon to him go ignored as she stomps off to her chambers.

Jun Kun then says that she didn’t used to be so angry and shrill. Snively says he wouldn’t know so Jun Kun explains their rise to power.

After Regina came to Jun Kun, they didn’t immediately rise up as one of the greats. They couldn’t get a foothold in with just her power alone… but then a rolly polly, rotund lord of lard came onto the scene and took over Mobotropolis.

Regina saw this as an excellent business opportunity and approached Robotnik, who then had that really unappealing design from the old show, to be made one of his sub-bosses.

Jun Kun didn’t like the idea but the weapons and supplies they got made them an epic powerhouse in the Dragon Kingdom… but that in turn made them viable competition and all Four of the fucking Houses were on their asses at once. Even Jun Kun can’t fight a war on four fronts.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised he can’t but I guess the buck has to stop somewhere.

Regina then had another idea. She would try to buy off the Bride of Rich Nights.

When she assured them she couldn’t be bought, Jun Kun turned her into grape jelly.

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I love the fact that he says he “destroyed” her. That doesn’t even feel like children’s media censorship. I totally believe he actually DESTROYED her. 

Look at him wiping the blood off that tremor mace. My god. It feels more gruesome that we can’t see the paste they’re looking at. I especially love the little Yagyu there, looking down at the mess. He’s probably wondering if he’s the one who has to clean it up.

From there, they spread rumors about the other clans being under Regina’s control and since the Yagyu were working for them, they served as proof. 

They managed to take over the whole place.

Then she came to New Megaopolis after Eggman went crazy. Jun Kun didn’t want to, AGAIN, but he figured that since she’d been right about everything else he’d follow her lead.

But now he’s getting yelled at by her and suffering tactical defeats, the worst kind of defeats. He blames this on Snively and snorts menacingly at him.

Snively is scared but when the man’s back is turned he becomes conniving and confident again.

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He’s a professional coward that one. It’s a large part of why I adore him so.


Back in the day, I remember considering this issue to be a tad filler-ish. The battle that took place was another stepping stone to gain an advantage on the war front but the advantage made didn’t seem all that immediately compelling. Right now, it’s not feeling all that much different but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Really, most of the action here exists to be something to compliment the real purpose of the issue which is about exploring Sally’s feelings for the new hotness in Ken the Monkey King. 

That was done well enough. Like I said, I do actually appreciate the two of them being an item a lot more but were it to come to fruition and stay that way, a lot of heads would roll. I may not get it, but an OTP scorned is a dangerous flame to play around with. It’s no wonder Ian no longer wishes to deal with it anymore.


Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #208: Iron Dominion, Part One

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Ah. Now that’s an effective cover. Nothing says evil like glowing energy pulsing through long, almost claw-like fingers and an extreme invasion of personal space. Sonic’s eyes are so big that were they open, her nasty fingers would be all up in those irises. Judging by the title, it sounds like something Dominion related is about to happen. Can’t wait.

Spoiler

Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Terry Austin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Assistant Editor: Paul Kaminski
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito

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Snively really wants that make-up sex so he makes sure to tell her the thing that she should have been informed of from jump.

He explains to her that the city was made from nanites and that Nicole is a purely digital being. 

Instead of being upset that it took this long for him to say this shit, she grabs him and spins him around in joy. 

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All she wanted was her advantage back, which is nice but the fact that she seriously threatened to lock him into a cell for entering her chambers if he didn’t have a sufficient way past their shields is troubling. Rocky relationships between villains can be a very scary thing.

Although, again, Snively really could have avoided a lot of this preamble if he’d said this immediately. He really had no reason not to. It’s almost as if he forgot. Was it the love bug? Was it cockiness? Or was it just for the sake of establishing the Iron Dominion as a strong, credible threat without that knowledge first?

I can see the merits of that last one because I’ve honestly been extremely impressed by how much headway they’ve made. 

Let me tell ya, it’s about to get so much better.

We cut to Knothole where Sonic and Tails are chatting. Sonic’s doing that thing Sally did where he’s approaching his best friend about something he doesn’t really care about to maybe ease into a conversation about Sally, probably. 

They talk about the bi-plane. Tails has finished repairing it himself. When Sonic asks him why he didn’t let Nicole do it, Tails says it’s his plane so it’s his responsibility. What kind of mechanic would he be if he let their digital cheat-sheet 3D print him a plane?

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It’s a nice establishment of his integrity as a mechanic but it’s also fairly good foreshadowing of how much use this thing is about to get. 

Seriously, they’re extremely lucky Tails managed to finish constructing this thing when he did and that it WASN'T made of nanites.

As an aside, I think the combination of Tracy Yardley and Matt Herms might be my favorite in the book right now. Tracey’s art is always reliably good but Matt Herms’ colors really make it look new and clean, even now.

A loud beeping goes off and Nicole summons everyone to where she is. The Iron Dominion is attacking. Like, literally, they just strolled on up like they want to borrow a cup of sugar.

It’s an obvious show of bravado that everyone is concerned by.

Especially Sonic.

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Yeah, he’s definitely talking about the Iron Dominion in this panel and nothing else.

Outside the city, Regina and Snively are being a lot more cushy with each other again. She’s apparently in such a good mood that she’s even openly displaying her affection for Snively out in front of the others.

Jun Kun warns her not to sound so formal with him, lest everyone else get the wrong idea. Regina tells him to calm down and that Snively knows his place, which sounds so much like a backhanded way of disguising that “his place” could potentially be higher than her darling husband’s.

Nicole overhears the conversation and beams herself in front of them to be a part of it so that she can tell them to get the fuck out.

I always love it whenever she or Sally or whoever tries to speak as though they have some authority over these villains like they’re being diplomatic between sovereigns of two different nations or something. It really puts things in perspective when the Iron Queen just FUCKING IGNROES HER AND TAKES CONTROL OF HER MIND, TRANSFORMING HER INTO IRON NICOLE AND FORCING HER TO GRANT THE IRON DOMINION ACCESS TO THE CITY AND ALL IT’S NON-COMBATANTS!

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It can’t be overstated just how big a fucking deal this is. 

In a lot of these look backs to my original reaction to these stories, I’ve recalled instances where I’ve been underwhelmed by something and changed my mind after re-reading it. However, looking at this, I find that I can’t recall what I thought about this back when I read it.

Despite reading the comic and purchasing it every month by this point, I feel like the part of me that resented it being so different just wouldn’t shut the fuck up so whenever it gave me exactly what I wanted, I would either not give it enough credit for that, not notice it because I was too hung up on the stuff I didn’t like or wasn’t used to, or if I did like it, it’d be for reasons that undermined the heroes.

My mind is kind of scrambled right now because I’m reading this and it’s kind of perfect.

Like, this is the kind of shit that I love.

The city being invaded is one thing but as soon as it happens Sally immediately tells Bunnie to GET THE FUCK OUT of the city and she, before hesitating a bit, flies off to do that. She doesn’t need to feel bad about it. The reason she has to is obvious but, of course, she still does and monologues to herself about why this is the right thing… but the dome over the city closes and traps her and everyone else inside so that’s a no-go.

It’s dark now, which is great for me since I love the darkness and the atmosphere of the glorious Halloween season. Even better is that the A.I that once protected them has now trapped them all within a city of her own creation and is telling the inhabitants that they’re all going to be turned into meat cutlets if they don’t surrender to the Iron Dominion.

So, obviously they all panic.

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The spotlights being turned on absolutely doesn’t help. It just heightens the intensity. If you’re standing in the spotlight, you’re in their sights and there may or may not be a bullet headed your way.

Thinking it over in my head, this is essentially the beginning of the end, not counting the Sonic Universe arc. The heroes and villains don’t know it but this is where the last stand is going to take place. I guess for the sake of the comic, that makes sense. We can’t have this going on for too long and they’ve already had a couple of back and forth battles in this war already.

Still, it’s a wonderful way of going about it. Let’s involve all the people that live here that can’t fight. Let’s trap them in their own home.

This is how it happened. This is how the Batman Knothole died.

The underlying concern I had when it was initially revealed that Nicole created a city entirely of nanites and could appear wherever she wanted within the city that she had complete control of is also being addressed here. Obviously, Nicole in the way she’s supposed to be doesn’t have any intention of taking advantage of that kind of power but the issue that comes with the potential of having something like that around isn’t something that’s easy to ignore. 

It’s finally happened that the right kind of enemy that can make use of her has come along to see this problem through.

Everyone is scrambled and running amok. Sally’s orders to the citizens to retreat to their homes fall on deaf ears. She tells the guards to do something but we don’t see them at all so it’s not known whether or not they even heard her. She tells Ken to go and evacuate her brother and her family from the palace but the instant he leaves and she’s attacked, he comes back to kick the enemy that jumped her in the face. Sally is about to reiterate what she told him to do but Ken tells her it’s too late. The castle is already sealed off.

Holy shiiiiiit. It’s almost too good. 

The Iron Dominion arc is spittin’ straight fire. 

Sonic and Tails manage to locate Sally and Ken and discuss what they’re going to do. Sonic and Sally get ambushed by two enemies from the dark but Tails and Ken save them both.

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You know your relationship is special when instead of a “Thank you” you can make fun of the person who saved you and have it be okay. Although, I do like how Tails’ feral smile there almost implies he’s not opposed to going to town on Sonic again.

The heroes come up with a plan to go to Freedom HQ and debug Nicole so that she can have control over the nanites in their favor. It sounds simple enough and it’s a good thing Jun Kun isn’t too bright because he probably would have informed Regina of this plan had he understood what it meant… because he shows up immediately after they finish pulling this plan together to slam his iron mace down at them.

As Sonic points out, he’s got a knack for dramatic timing.

Jun Kun tells Sally to bow before her king. She says she didn’t bow before Eggman and he was twice the tyrant he was. Oh dear! An insult like that doubles as a compliment to Eggman. You just know he’d be flattered by that if he was in his right mind.

Ken jabs his lightning rod into Jun Kun’s chest to hold him off while Sonic, Sally, and Tails race off to put their plan into action.

We then cut to Snively, having reached the detention center where Eggman is so that he can gloat at him. It goes about as well as you’d think.

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It’s definitely true that he jumps around a lot at what point in time in his life he’s in. That’s quite the interesting way of handling his craziness. His mind is trying to reconfigure itself by going through all that’s happened and trying it’s best to reconstruct things so that they make sense. You can even see the proof of this behind Eggman with all the scrawlings of seemingly pointless equations on the wall. He’s not just taking after his grand daddy here. It’s for the betterment of his mind. 

At least, that's my theory.

Also, you gotta love the way Eggman doesn’t even have to try to shut Snively down despite being a drooling mass of mind fuckery right now. Even when crazy, Eggman’s still got your number boy.

There’s a scene where Vector, Antoine, and Bunnie are surrounded by enemies. Antoine asks Vector if he still has a warp ring with him and Vector says “Oh yeah! Our ticket to Angel Island!” and heads off to try and evacuate some people there. We see Mighty using it to get some very lucky people out of dodge.

Antoine tells Bunnie to go with them, explaining perfectly in a way that makes complete sense why she shouldn’t be there. She doesn’t want to leave him alone, of course, but she’s vulnerable to the Iron Queen and if taken control of again the chances of her dying due to drained energy increase and on top of that, the prospect of it happening would weigh too much on Antoine’s mind.

They’re all good points and Bunnie relents at first, making mention of how he used to be one for running away from stuff like this but is now taking it upon himself to be what’s essentially a sacrifice… though, he says he plans to find the others and regroup.

That isn’t enough for Bunnie though. She feigns leaving him be for about a panel or so before she launches her robo-fist at the enemies and proclaims that she’s staying. Her reasoning is because of her marriage vows. 

She’s choosing to view it as though it’s just the two of them charging together and thus it’ll be just the two of them who are in danger of dying side-by-side. That’s a nice sentiment but the Iron Queen doesn’t give a shit about your marriage. If she takes control of Bunnie again, it’s going to be more than just Antoine that she uses Bunnie to hurt so… I see what she means but at the same time there’s a bit more potentially at stake than what she says here.

It’s cute seeing them charge together though.

It matters little because giant hands with creepy technomage magic runes show up to start grabbing shit out of the air.

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“Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria” doesn’t even begin to describe everything happening here.

It’s not quite Nightmare on Elm Street levels of distorted landscapes and weird dreamlike things trying to kill you but if it goes on for too long, who knows?

Sonic tries his best to stop them and is certain to trot out a “I needed a hand” joke for those who eagerly awaited it but he doesn’t make much headway. 

None of this push back is going to matter if they don’t manage to escape.

So then, Ken turns around and sees the horrible goings on taking place and is about to be ambushed by Jun Kun when our glorious hammer wielding pink hedgehog from the house of piko comes in to match his blow!

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It’s such a silly and cartoonish display but it’s extremely hype.

When I saw this back in the day, despite drowning in cynicism for whatever reason, this stood out as something really cool!

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I believe when I saw this (either this or the cover for Issue 211 when the solicits came out) my thunderous reaction on those dead SEGA forums was “YES! AMY VS. JUN KUN! IT’S LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF AN ANIME!”

I was soooo insanely hyped for anything that felt like a one on one anime battle. People on that forum even noted my excitement for it since I rarely ever expressed excitement for the Archie comic at the time. 

Honestly, I’m kind of ashamed of how I was back in the day. My reluctance to enjoy the story I was purchasing each month not only didn’t make much sense but it got so bad I actually started exploring those Anti-Archie crowds on Deviantart and paid a little heed to some of the nonsense they were saying about Ian Flynn. Not as a person but as a writer. Thankfully I never drank the Kool-Aid and it didn’t get SO bad that I wasn’t able to stumble out of it and get back to reality but good God.

My thoughts and feelings regarding the Archie comic back in the day were so scrambled and confused, much like a lot of the elements within the book itself. It was such a mishmash of old ideas, new ideas, old continuities, newer continuities, old characters, newer characters, original characters… that I couldn’t form an opinion on it that I felt I was comfortable with.

Like, even when I would do nothing but complain I’d still buy the books and anticipate the next issue. I made sure to have them all perfectly protected in my binders. Was I buying it just because it was Sonic? I doubt it. There’s plenty of things I don’t buy with Sonic’s face on them. Was I just desperate for a Sonic comic? Perhaps but the amount of genuine interest and anticipation to see some of these elements come through DID exist in some capacity. It existed more in a sense of wishing to see the heroes have as hard a time as possible but even so…

… Man, though. It feels weird. When all was said and done, I remember that, despite all my complaining, I really REALLY ended up enjoying the Iron Dominion Arc as a whole.

I understand I’m trying to make sense of feelings and actions I had and took some 12 years ago so it might seem a little fruitless. This was back when I was trying to get into these comics on a more consistent basis so it probably should considered natural that the adjustment period saw me as a very confused individual regarding its content.

What matters is how I feel about it now and my opinion today is that this is awesome.

Ken flies his cloud beside Sonic and the others on the plane. When Sonic asks what happened to the Iron King, Ken says “I believe her name was Amy Rose” and Sonic says “Say no more.”

He then blows a hole in the dome and they manage to fly their way out of the city.

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I love how the different colored narration boxes also look really frantic. It’s like they’re fighting to see which one can shove themselves into the reader's face and exposit how exciting things are the most.

It’s a futile effort because I usually just ignore them. It takes me out of the book a bit to read passages telling me that I’m reading a comic and to be excited for the next issue. You all fail.

This development was the turning point. It’s the beginning of the end for someone, no matter how this shakes out. I thought this issue was awesome. It was exciting and fun but on top of that it’s a continuation of the exact kind of thing I want out of these comics. I want the bad guys to feel like a threat and I want what they try to accomplish to come with a wheelbarrow full of delicious stakes and seasoned warriors fighting in tough battles to overcome the odds. It feels good being in the middle of this situation again. 

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SanPolo4389

Not sure what to say of these issues, I guess I remember people saying they didn't like both Sally and Khan but I guess that was just how things were, also NIcole being controlled like that would set off alot of stuff that would happen later.

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